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Opponents March Against Xstrata in Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Environmentalists and civil society organizations in the Dominican Republic held protests on September 16 against Xstrata’s Loma Miranda nickel mining project.

Protesters marched to the national palace, and some were planning to camp outside the gateway to the project site. The demonstrators aim to raise awareness and get the attention of President Danilo Medina, who they want to intervene to deny Canada-based Xstrata’s application for permits.

Opponents of the project include businesses, politicians, students, priests, union members, academics and members of various civil society groups.

They say Loma Miranda threatens 61 rivers and creeks. According to the studies presented by the country’s Academy of Science, 122,000 agricultural projects could also be affected.

Opponents claim the project poses a risk to the Yaguel River Basin. The company has promised that water sources in the area will be protected.

Supporters point out that Loma Miranda could generate an estimated $3 billion USD. Critics say the projects cost, in terms of its social and environmental impacts, would be even higher.

The country’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources is carrying out a thorough review of the mining project’s environmental impact assessment.

Professor Luis Carvajal, director of the Environmental Commission of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and member of the Science Academy of the Dominican Republic, said: “No country in the world with clear notions on sustainable development would exploit a mine in a hydrological basin as important as Loma Miranda, whose water benefits over 400,000 residents.”

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