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Famatina Gold mining, Argentina

Famatina remains under the constant threat of mining projects, which have been so far successfully repealed by the continuous efforts of the neighboring communities. New campaign to create a national park and protect the mountains.


Famatina is the name of a mountain located in La Rioja, a province in northwest Argentina. Its peak reaches 6250 MASL; it has glaciers and contains an enormous water basin. It has been historically a mining area. In 2005 the Canadian multinational Barrick Gold reached an agreement with Yamiri S.A., a local company from Rioja, for the exploration of the area for gold extraction. The project involves an open pit mine: a mining technique characterized by large explosions and the use of millions of gallons of water and acids. These explosions produce cocktails of contaminants in the air, soil and water of the area.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Famatina Gold mining, Argentina
State or province:La Rioja
Location of conflict:Chilecito - Famatina
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2012, Osisko stated that the Famatina Project is located near Famatina and Chilecito, towns of respectively 6,500 and 50,000 people (including surrounding areas) in the northern part of the state of La Rioja. The mineral rights to Famatina are held by EMSE. At this point in time Famatina was an exploration project only; there was no current plan, design or intent for any mining operations. Osisko had committed to spend $10 million, including environmental baseline studies, during the initial 4-year term. Osisko intended to execute the agreement through its subsidiary Minera El Portal S.A. (“MEP”).

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Project area:13,600
Level of Investment:10,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:50,000
Start of the conflict:2005
Company names or state enterprises:Osisko Mining Corporation from Canada
Yamiri S.A. from Argentina
Barrick Gold Corporation from Canada
Corriente Argentina S.A. from Argentina
SEARGEN S.A. from Argentina
Relevant government actors:Argentina Government, Honorable Concejo Deliberante del Dpto. Chilecito, Consejo Provincial de la Rioja, Municipalidad Departamento Famatina, Legislature of La Rioja
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:FUNAM, Radio Mitre, Los Vecinos Autoconvocados de Pituil - Argentina, Los Vecinos Autoconvocados de Los Sauces, Los Vecinos Autoconvocados de Chanarmuyo, Los Vecinos de Famatina Autoconvocados en defensa de la Vida, Coordinadora de las Asambleas Riojanas, La Coordinadora de Asambleas Ciudadanas por la Vida de Chilecito, UAC, Teachers of the school EPET 1 of Chilecito, Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Greenpeace, Los Verdes, Vecinos Autoconvocados por la Vida- Famatina, Vecinos Autoconvocados de Pituil, Vecinos Autoconvocados de Chañarmuyo, Vecinos Autoconvocados de Capital - La Rioja, ATE, Frente Social por el Agua y la Vida, Izquierda Socialista.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
The activists maintained the Alto Carrizal roadblock day and night for over one year, but were selective in whose passage they block (2012).
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Mine tailing spills, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Soil erosion
Other Environmental impactsThey are all potential since the project did not start
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIntoxication by consumption of contaminated water
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Development of alternatives:In 2017 campaign to create a national park to protect mining sites and create work opporunities.
Quotes in La Nación newspaper (9/12/17):
"No podemos dejarle el palo y el corte de ruta a nuestros hijos y nietos, sino el disfrute de recursos naturales maravillosos", dice Laura Mierez, integrante de la asamblea de Chilecito. "Un parque revaloriza las economías regionales, la producción local, y permitirá el desarrollo de las comunidades", completa Carolina Sufich, de la Asamblea de Famatina que, desde hace un tiempo, se concentra en "trabajar con la gente y crear conciencia de lo que implica esta posibilidad".
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The Famatina project in La Rioja, Argentina, remained stalled in January 2012 after protesters began blockading the site and marched on the governors office and in the capital Buenos Aires. Osisko (a Canadian company) withrew in 2013. So far no new exploration has been conducted (2018).
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Decreto-Ley Nº 3620/0, Ley Orgánica para la Dirección de Minería. Modificada por Ley Nº 3.257
[click to view]

Ley 24.585 Protección Ambiental para la Actividad Minera
[click to view]

Ley 25.688 Régimen de Gestión Ambiental de Aguas
[click to view]

Law Codigo Mineria

Law 8139 that creates a commission of inquiry to clarify the contracts and agreements between Barrick Gold and Yamiri S.A.

Ley 20.284 sobre Preservación del aire y contaminación atmosférica
[click to view]

Ley 22.351 sobre Áreas Protegidas
[click to view]

Ley 25.675 General del Ambiente - Presupuestos mínimos
[click to view]

Ley Nº 7371/2002
[click to view]

Ley Nº 8139/2007
[click to view]

Ley Nº 7601/2003, Declara en Emergencia Hídrica al Dpto. Famatina
[click to view]

Law 8137 on the Prohibition of the exploitation of open pit mining techniques that use cyanide and other pollutants

Constitución Provincia de la Rioja (2008)
[click to view]

Law 8138 on the creation of a popular referendum on June 29 2007 for the citizens of Famatina Chilecito

Law of Mining Inversion

Ley 22.428 Decreto reglamentario 681/81 sobre Usos y de Conservación de Suelos
[click to view]

Ley Nº 7426/2004, Declara de Emergencia Hídrica en todo el territorio Provincial
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Minera. Impactos sociales y ambientales. World Rainforest Movement. 2004 Mu periodico de Lavaca. Aprile 2007/ numero 3
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

OLCA website, al Conflicto
[click to view]

OLCA website, el Proyecto
[click to view]

La lucha en Famatina contra la transnacional minera Barrica
[click to view]

AIM, Contra la minería a cielo abierto en Famatina, La Rioja
[click to view]

No a la Mina, 2014, El Famatinazo: punto de inflexión que ha logrado que el pueblo le pierda miedo al poder
[click to view]

Famatina Says NO to Barrick Gold, Corp Watch, 2007
[click to view]

Protest Barrick, Barrick Gold Secretly Building Roads to Attack Mt. Famatina in La Rioja, Argentina
[click to view]

No a la Mina, 2014, Desde hace 8 años el Famatina no se toca
[click to view]

Barrick Gold se va de Famatina, Pagina 12, 2007
[click to view]

La Rioja rescindió convenio con la minera que iba a explotar Famatina, El Ambito, 2013
[click to view]

Famatina, un pueblo contra la minería, Los Andes, 2012
[click to view]

Osisko, 2012, Osisko updates status of Famatina Exploration Project
[click to view]

Famatina, triunfo del bloqueo del 2012, El Polvorín, 2013
[click to view]

La Rioja: represión en defensa de la minería a cielo abierto, R., Werner, 16/10/2015
[click to view]

A cielo abierto: Famatina frente a las corporaciones mineras, La Vaca, 2007
[click to view]

Greenpeace apoyó el reclamo anti minero por Famatina en La Rioja, Greenpeace, 2012
[click to view]

Ecoportal; Minería en Argentina: Malintencionado informe de Barrick del proyecto Famatina
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Funcionario de La Rioja agrede ambientalista 2
[click to view]

EL PUEBLO DE FAMATIMA DICE NO A LA MEGAMINERÍA A CIELO ABIERTO - canción a la causa en contra de la megamineria en Famantina
[click to view]

New attempts to explore mining site in 2018, new blokades, mobilizations and public refusal
[click to view]

Campain to create national park (2017)
[click to view]

Funcionario de La Rioja agrede ambientalista
[click to view]

Lucha contra la Barrick Gold en Famatina Argentina

Documental sobre la lucha de la comunidad de Famatina en Argentina contra el gigantesco intento de la minera canadiense Barrick Gold de explotar el oro de sus montañas, por las devastadoras consecuencias ambientales.

Al Jazeera, edicion inglesa, People&Power (Gente y Poder) del 22 de junio del 2009. Traduccción y subtiulado: Colectivo Cinema Alternativo
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl (updated 2018 by Mariana Walter)
Last update27/03/2019
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