Mining project poses environmental and health risks

Mining project poses environmental and health risks
11/24/2011 Send a comment Print this page

Large Canadian mining companies eye country’s minerals, but some local residents complain of potential damages.

The Pueblo Viejo mine will damage local residents’ health, the environment and the food supply, warned the Frente Amplio de Lucha Popular, a political party movement as known as FALPO, in Dominican Republic.

The US$3-billion mine, owned by Canadian companies Barrick Gold and Goldcorp, is located 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the capital, Santo Domingo, and the companies report proven and probable reserves of 20.4 million ounces of gold, 131 million ounces of silver and 455 million pounds of copper. They expect to start production in the mine next year and that the project’s life should span 25 years.

Vinicio Santos, a FALPO coordinator for the Sánchez Ramírez province, said the project will mean tons of sulfur particles will be spewed into the environment, hurting the local plant and animal life and the population that lives around the mine.
The organization called on community, environmental, religious, professional and campesino groups to join the fight against the mine.

This is not the only controversial project run by Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer. The company has investments in Peru, Argentina and Chile, including the binational Pascua Lama mine, which straddles the Argentina-Chile border. This project is also set to start producing gold in 2012, but it has faced fierce opposition from the local population since it would contaminate the fresh glacier water that supplies 70,000 small-scale farmers in the Huasco valley in northern Chile.

Goldcorp, for its part, also operates in Argentina and Chile as well as Honduras and Mexico. In Guatemala, its Marlin mine was suspended by the government, on a suggestion by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, after local communities complained of health and environmental damage. But in July, following a government review of the threats said it did not find any health or environmental damage.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines issued a resolution saying that “there is no ground to suspend the activities of the mine”. —Latinamerica Press.


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