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Barrick Threatens Legal Action Against NGO – Over Publication of Contamination of Gold Mining Projects in Argentina


May 16th 2011 – Argentina. Barrick Gold threatened to file legal actions against the Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA), for publishing a report that uses Barrick’s own water monitoring data and concludes that the Veladero and Pascua Lama projects are contaminating San Juan’s rivers and streams.

CEDHA’s report, published earlier this month followed research by Italian scientist Flaviano Bianchini, a visiting scholar at CEDHA during 2010, who found that rivers downstream from Veladero (in operations since 2005) and Pascua Lama (which extensive exploratory and preparatory work underway) are showing high readings of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, aluminum, and other contaminants such as arsenic and oil, in some cases over one hundred times more than baseline readings, and in others, exceeding the limits allowed by national law, with an unusual peak of these readings in 2009.

According to the article published in a daily newspaper in San Juan over the weekend, Barrick says that CEDHA’s report is “absolutely false and malicious”, and “due to the severity of this action by the Center for Human Rights and Environment, and the severe effect this causes on our good organizational and professional name and reputation, we are currently analyzing the report and legal action that we will take as a consequence”.

Barrick emphasizes their respect for national and international law. The company stresses that their operations are of the highest ethical and environmental standards. In their response to CEDHA’s report, published in the San Juan daily paper, El Zonda (see link), the mining company points out that they are audited by the State Mining Ministry (which also attacks CEDHA’s critiques pointing to lax controls by the Mining Ministry of Barrick’s operations).

Barrick claims that “CEDHA misinterprets some data of very unclear origin” and that CEDHA produces false interpretations of reality … [and that CEDHA] concludes with an unjust disqualification of our company and its’ people, of the entire mining sector and all public and private national and provincial institutions, which through their serious professionals have participated in the evaluation and approval of all of Veladero and Pascua Lama’s environmental documents”.

CEDHA, which utilized Barrick’s own statistics publicly available to produce the report, is also studying Barrick Gold’s documented and devastating impact on glaciers in the high Andes mountains, which according to Argentina’s recently enacted Glacier Protection Law, would render Pascua Lama illegal as the project currently stands, Veladero, which has been in operations since 2005 would have to carry out extensive repairs to damaged glaciers. Originally, the company which claims in this response to CEDHA that they uphold the highest ethical and professional standards, suggested they could dynamite glaciers and move them with dump trucks to other locations, presumably so they would not hinder gold extraction. That proposal was rejected by local communities and by the government for obvious reasons.

Original news article:

http://www.elzonda.info/index.php/Pol%C3%A9mico-informe-habla-de-riesgos-en-el-r%C3%ADo-Las-Taguas.html

CEDHA’s report (available only in Spanish):

http://www.cedha.org.ar/contenidos/IMPACTO%20DE%20LOS%20EMPRENDIMIENTOS%20VELADERO%20Y%20PASCUA%20LAMA%20SOBRE%20LOS%20RECURSOS%20HIDRICOS%20DE%20LA%20PROVINCIA%20DE%20SAN%20JUAN%20-%20CEDHA%20-%202011.pdf

For more information:

jdtaillant@cedha.org.ar

Tel: +54 9 351 507 8376

www.cedha.org.ar

 

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