Argentina: protests follow gold mine cyanide spill

Residents of San Juan Jáchal, in Argentina's northwestern province of San Juan, took to the streets in protest after an industrial malfunction caused a pipe carrying cyanide to Barrick Gold's nearby Veladero gold mine to rupture and spill an undetermined amount of its contents in the area on Sept. 13. Protesters who converged on the town hall said town residents had repeatedly warned on social media and through text messages to authorities that the pipe had a faulty valve—and that no move to address the problem was taken even after messages reported that spills had reached the banks of the Río Jáchal. The river is the source of water for the town, and municipal taps have been cut off since the spill. (MercoPress, InfoBae, Sept. 16; Reuters, InfoBae, Sept. 14)

  1. Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine ordered closed

    Judicial authorities in Argentina's San Juan province extended the closure of Barrick Gold's Veladero mine "until the requirements of a technical report are completed." Operations at the facility were first suspended after last week's cyanide spill. Technically, the order only applies to operations that use cyanide. (InfoBae, Sept. 23)

    The amount of cyanide solution that spilled from the Veladero mine is almost five times more than previously believed, the company now acknowledges. By Barrick’s own estimates, approximately 1,072 cubic metres (1.072 million litres) of cyanide solution made it into the Rio Potrerillos (tributary of the Jáchal), due to a valve failure and a sluice gate being left open on Sept. 12. (Buenos Aires Herald, Sept. 14)