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Activists demand to ban cyanide outside Barrick's offices in Dominican Republic

The protest took place in front of the offices of Barrick, which prepares to operate the Pueblo Viejo gold and silver mine next year

Salva Tierra
March 19th, 2012

The group SalvaTierra took a non-violent direct action this morning in front of the building where the multinational mining corporation Barrick has part of its offices in capital city, Santo Domingo. It declared its support to dozens of environmental and social groups that have already expressed their opposition to megamining in the country and joined the campaign by the Latin America Mining Conflicts Observatory (OCMAL) to ban cyanide in the whole region.

In their statement, the group warns that: “Mega open pit mining is an activity whose enormous scale entails major environmental impacts, such as the destruction of large forests, the massive consumption of fresh water and electricity, the production of acid drainage, and above all the use of large amounts of highly toxic substances”. Amongst the latter they highlighted cyanide, which Barrick is planning to use for processing 24,000 tons of mineral daily in the Pueblo Viejo mine currently under construction.

The activists of SalvaTierra asserted that the terrible disasters cyanide has already caused in different parts of the world evidence that there is no way of having absolute safeguards against spills of this toxic substance. They highlighted the cyanide spill that occurred in Romaina in 2000, which motivated a ten years debate that concluded with the ban of cyanide for mining purposes in the whole of the European Union; and that of Ghana, in 2009, which took place in a gold mine certified by the International Cyanide Management Code, which Barrick now pretends to use as a guarantee against spills in Pueblo Viejo.

While a 20 percent of the Dominican population has no access to water according to the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), the Pueblo Viejo mine is planning to consume 2,500 cubic meters of water per hour. The mine is also putting in risk of pollution with cyanide and acid drainage the Hatillo dam, the largest of the Caribbean region. SalvaTierra expressed their concerns about these facts, specially when it has been announced that climate change could decrease the water supply of the nation up to a 60 a percent.

The group concluded by saying that the decision to take the Dominican Republic on the path of megamining development is not the result of a consensus based on a democratic debate, but rather seeks particular interests and privileges. In addition, they stated that there is crucial information which has been kept from the public, such as the amount of cyanide that Barrick is planning to use in Pueblo Viejo. For all these reasons, they demanded more transparency and access to information from the mining corporations and the government, and the ban of cyanide for mining purposes. 

 

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