Timeline of spills and resistance at Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine in Argentina
The Veladero mine is a large industrial gold and silver mine in northwestern Argentina, operated by Minera Argentina Gold SRL through a 50/50 joint venture between Barrick Gold (Canadian) and Shandong Gold (Chinese). There have already been five toxic spills at the mine, where the repeated release of toxic substances from Veladero’s infrastructure into downstream watersheds has caused irreparable harm to the Jáchal river and downstream communities. Concerningly, the company has refused to acknowledge a recent spill with the potential to produce a health emergency for impacted communities.
The mine continues to operate in violation of the Argentine Mining Code, which states that after three environmental infractions at a mine site, the company must close those operations. The company continues to benefit from the silence of local and departmental authorities, who are taking no action to contain or remediate the harm committed.
The Asamblea Jáchal No Se Toca has systematically documented and denounced toxic spills and the response (or lack thereof) from the government and the company. The complaints filed by the community bring to light the concealment of information about spills and attempts by the company and the local government to minimize their magnitude or impact.
The Veladero mine operates in violation of the Law of Glaciers, given that it is located in a periglacial zone. According to the law, no mining or hydrocarbon exploration or exploitation activities can be carried out there. The mine is also located within the San Guillermo Biosphere Reserve (RBSG), affecting endangered species such as the vicuña, the mountain suri, and the horned coot.
Type of project:
The Veladero mine is an industrial gold and silver mine which uses cyanide heap leach processing to separate the metals of value from the ore, producing mercury as a byproduct.
The Veladero mine is located in the province of San Juan in northwestern Argentina, approximately 374 kilometres northwest of the city of San Juan, in the department of Iglesia in the San Juan province). The project straddles the border with Chile and is situated in the Andes with elevations at the site ranging from 3800 - 4800 metres above sea level. Communities downstream of the mine, along the Blanco and Jáchal rivers, include Rodeo and San José de Jáchal.
Current owner and operator:
The Veladero mine is operated by Minera Argentina Gold SRL, a 50/50 joint venture between the Canadian company Barrick Gold and the Chinese company Shandong Gold.
Current phase: Fully operational.
- Planned life cycle: originally 16 years. In 2020, the firm extended the life of the mine another 10 years.
- Infrastructure: open pit, heap leach gold and silver mine
- Production capacity: In 2021, the Veladero mine produced 172,000 ounces of gold and has a measured and indicated reserve of 3 million unmined ounces. The heap leaching process used at the Veladero site allows the mining company to extract gold and silver from low grade ore by rinsing crushed ore with a cyanide solution, producing mercury as a byproduct.