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Barrick's Pascua Lama project denounced as illegal

Legal experts and community leaders point to illegal approval process and lack of social license.

May 7th, 2009

Barrick Gold Corporation announced today that its Pascua-Lama project, situated on the border of Chile and Argentina, is proceeding to construction. Community leaders and legal experts from Chile and Argentina – currently in Canada as part of an international delegation – responded to Barrick's announcement today by denouncing this project as illegal and lacking the social license to operate.

Nancy Yáńez, lawyer and Co-director of the Citizen Observatory of Chile says that “The execution of Pascua Lama mining project is illegal because it violates human rights guaranteed by the international and national system of law. In the particular case of the Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos, the Pascua Lama project is executed against the will of this indigenous community, who has turned to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to ensure the protection of their rights. The resolution of this case is still pending.”

Sergio Campusano, President of the Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos, in Chile, is emphatic: "The Chilean State has failed to ensure the respect of our ancient rights over the lands where Pascua Lama is located in Chile. We were intentionally not considered in the assessment process of the project because we oppose to mega mining in our lands. There has been no respect for our right to self determination."

In Argentina, local communities has have also rejected the development of this project. As Javier Rodríguez Pardo, member of the Union of Citizen Assemblies of Argentina says, "Barrick Gold in Argentina and Chile does not have the social license to operate the mining reserves of Pascua Lama. The communities of Argentina affected by the eventual Pascua lama project do not support this extracting activity and are now demanding a mandatory referendum in the affected territories."

In March 2007, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issued a formal recommendation to Canada to better regulate and monitor its mining corporations abroad when they are operating on indigenous lands. Canada is a signatory in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and is thus bound to observe international human rights. The Government of Canada cannot wait to enact a specific bill to oblige Canadian companies to accomplish the international standards on Human Rights.


media contacts:

Javier Rodríguez Pardo

Nancy Yáńez Fuenzalida

Sergio Campusano,

647- 835-1979


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