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Don't cry for me Argentina's glaciers

The Great Beyond
November 17th, 2008

Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez, has just vetoed a bill to protect the country’s glaciers, reports Reuters. The bill was passed only a month ago by Argentina’s congress.

The bill would have hampered Canadian mining company Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama project. The widely-derided $2.4 billion mine sits on the border of Chile and Argentina, in the Andes and near a number of glaciers, and the plan is to get gold, silver and a wealth of other metals and minerals from the open-cast site. The glacier bill would have hampered the project, according to the Reuters story.

Environmentalists are rather cross about this latest move (Latin American Herald Tribune), because they say the mine will cause the glaciers perched in the mountains around the mine, to slip and be destroyed, with the knock-on effect of threatening many people’s water supply. Raul Montenegro, president of the group Environmental Defense Foundation, (Funam), said in a statement that Fernandez: “doesn't care about the people whose water supply comes from (glacier-fed) water basins."

Fernandez announced her veto in a decree, saying that she did this to protect economic development in Andean regions, after concerns were raised by governors of those regions: "Banning mining and oil exploration and extraction ... would give environmental considerations pre-eminence over activities that could be undertaken in a way that protects the environment,” the decree read.

The mine still hasn’t got the final all clear, apparently, because Chile and Argentina are still wrangling about who gets what in terms of tax.


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