Meridian Gold Mine in Esquel, Argentina

Read about the first town in Argentina whose inhabitants' strong mobilization and people's "consulta" prevented the mining project from ever starting


Description

El Desquite mine is only 7 km

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Basic Data
NameMeridian Gold Mine in Esquel, Argentina
CountryArgentina
ProvinceChubut
SiteEsquel
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Specific CommoditiesGold
Silver
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe use of 6 tons of cyanide a day to extract the precious Argentine gold. The 26.600 tons of cyanide used over 10 years for the extraction operations: 180 tons a month of sodium cyanide and other chemicals, such as 12 tons of chloridic acid, 12 tons of caustic soda, 1.400 Kg of litharge and so on. The use of about a million litres of water a day.
Level of Investment (in USD)120,000,000
Type of PopulationUnknown
Start Date07/2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesDu Pont - supplier of Meridian Gold
Meridian Gold Inc. from Canada
Bussines for Social Responsability (BSR) from United States of America - hired by Meridian Gold to investigate the reasons of the victory of the opposition to the mine in the referendum
El Desquite S.A - subsidiary of Meridian Gold S.A.
Relevant government actorsProvincial Government of Chubut, City of Esquel -Argentina
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSoc. Ecologica Reg. del Bolson, Association Ornitologica Lago Puelo, Vuquipura Mapu de Alto Rio Senguerr, Proy. Lemu, ORGANIZACION DE COMUNIDADES MAPUCHE TEHUELCHE 11 DE OCTUBRE, Ex Trab. de YPF de Cdoro., Rivadavia, Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Proteccion Ecologica Corcovado
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
OtherPollution from sodium cyanide and other chemicals
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject cancelled
After the referendum the company decided to stop the project.
Development of AlternativesThe local community rejected the project.

Since November 2002 they initiated the Assembly of neighbors self-convened (Asamblea de vecinos autoconvocados AVA) and called for a local non-binding referendum (consulta).
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The population opposed to the project in a referendum on 23 March 2003. Although it was non-binding, the Province government and the company announced a few days later the interruption of the project.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

International Labour Organisation (ILO) Indigenous and Tribal People Convention 169

National Law on Mining Investments Number 24.196

References

Minera: Impactos sociales y ambientales, World Rainforest Movement, 2004
[click to view]

[1] Nuevos conflictos ambientales mineros en Argentina. El caso Esquel (2002-2003), Mariana, Walter, Revista de la red iberoamericana de economia ecologica, 2008, 8: 15-28
[click to view]

"No todo lo que es oro brilla. Resumen de impactos ambientales de la minería de oro", V. Odriozola, Campaña de Tóxicos de Greenpeace Argentina , 01/2003
[click to view]

[3] Informe de Investigación y Lineamientos Propositivos - Diagnostico de la cuestion minera en la Argentina, Centro para la transparencia en la gestion publica y privida Lisandro de la Torre, 09/2006
[click to view]

Links

Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales
[click to view]

El desquite de Meridian Gold, T.A. Maknis Eco Portal, 10/2003
[click to view]

NO a la mina
[click to view]

Patagonia rebelde, D. Aranda, 2013
[click to view]

Cuando esquel dijo No, Hace diez anos se hacia el primer plebiscito antiminero, 23/03/2013
[click to view]

Una corporación vs los vecinos de Esquel: Una querella de película, 15/02/2007
[click to view]

[2] Esquel: El Desquite minero, H. Scandizzo, 05/11/2006
[click to view]

Media Links

Video in Italian "Le miniere di Esquel - Argentina - Vergognoso"
[click to view]

Mapa conflictos mineros, Provincia de Chubut
[click to view]

Other Documents

March in Esquel in 2013 comemorating the victory stopping the project in 2003 darioaranda.wordpress.com
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLucie Greyl & Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update29/01/2016
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