Campaign against Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama project

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

Update (July 2006): This matter is now before the courts in Chile, and no longer subject to political decisions. Please support our Chilean counterparts in their continuing struggle for democracy and environmental protection.

It's not too late! Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama project in the Andean peaks between Chile and Argentina threatens precious water resources and ancient glaciers. But it can still be stopped!

CONAMA, the Chilean National Environmental Commission, has accepted 42 of the 46 complaints that were filed against the COREMA (Regional Environmental Commission) decision accepting Barrick's EIA and allowing the project to proceed as long as the glaciers were not touched. President Bachelet was elected in part on her environmental promises, and the new head of CONAMA has a solid green reputation.

Barrick has not yet explained how it plans to mine without "accidentally" disturbing the already-damaged glaciers, nor has it addressed the larger questions around water use and contamination on both sides of the Argentina-Chile border. See, /sites/default/files/Pascua_Lama_en_web.pdf, and for details, and if you read Spanish, OLCA's comprehensive page at

The $60 million deal with which Barrick tried to buy off the opposition of the irrigation farmers of the Huasco Valley has been declared invalid by the Public Works Ministry's General Directorate of Waters, since it would have to have been approved by a special general assembly of the Rio Huasco and Tributaries Protection Committee, not just by the Directors.

The rights of the indigenous Diaguitas in this case are still being argued, and the case may go to the Interamerican Human Rights Tribunal if CONAMA rules in favour of Barrick. There is also the possibility that the mining concessions right around Pascua Lama, which are crucial to the successful development of the project, may be returned to mining engineer Rodolfo Villar who claims he sold the property to Barrick in 1997 for $10 million US but only received 10,000 Chilean pesos (about $19.00).

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has initiated a series of formal round table discussions on the need to regulate the activities of Canadian mining companies operating internationally. The round tables kick off in June in Vancouver and end in Montreal in November (see for details). The Pascua Lama project is just one more example of why the whole range of regulations governing corporations needs to be expanded and strengthened, from stock market disclosure to environmental and human rights conventions.

There have been a number of sign-ons and letter-writing campaigns - see and for examples.

Please use your own words to ask that this project be stopped; write/call/fax directly (with a copy to MiningWatch Canada):

Sra. Michelle Bachelet Jeria
Presidenta de la República
Palacio de La Moneda
Fax: (+562) 6904020
E-mail: opinion(at), internet(at), mhansen(at)

Ana Lya Uriarte
Teatinos 254/258, Santiago Centro
Teléfonos: Recepción: (56-2) 240 5600 / Oficina de Información: (56-2) 241 1800
Fax: (56-2) 244 1262
E-mail: informacion(at)

Hon. David Emerson
Minister of International Trade
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Telephone: 943-0267
Fax: 943-0219
E-mail: Emerson.D(at)

Hon. Peter MacKay
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Telephone: 992-6022
Fax: 992-2337
E-mail: MacKay.P(at)

Vincent Borg
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications
Barrick Gold Corporation
BCE Place
Canada Trust Tower
161 Bay Street, Suite 3700
P.O. Box 212
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2S1
Telephone: (416) 307-7477 / Toll Free: 1-800-720-7415
Fax: (416) 861-1509
E-mail: vborg(at)