Pascua Lama Project Approved Despite Environmental and Indigenous Rights Concerns

On June 13th, 2006, CONAMA (the Chilean National Environment Commission) approved Barrick Gold's controversial Pascua Lama project, upholding the COREMA Region III (Regional Environment Commission) recommendation to approve the project and sustaining only 2 of the 46 objections that had been filed against it. At this writing the CONAMA web site has not been updated, so we have only media reports to go on, but it seems the approval included only minimal strengthening of the COREMA recommendations.

Environmental, farmers, and Indigenous groups have indicated they will be seeking a judicial review of the CONAMA approval.

The project still requires approval in Argentina; however, environmental requirements there are even less demanding. There are also still a number of legal processes still under way, including the revindication of the Diaguita People's land rights, which had been nullified under the Pinochet dictatorship.

Chilean environmental and indigenous rights advocates have vowed to continue their opposition to the project and others that threaten indigenous rights and the delicate environment of the region. Certainly the mining industry and the political, legal, and regulatory framework that favours mining over other land uses will now face unprecedented levels of scrutiny.

For more information (in Spanish) visit:
CONAMA's file on the project
No To Pascua Lama
Citizens' Movement Against Pascua Lama
OLCA, the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts