Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold is denying that activity at its Pascua Lama mine has had no affect on Andean glaciers in the region. The deterioration of the glaciers is the result of climate change, the company the Court of Appeals of Copiapó, Chile.
Barrick Gold made its arguments before the court last month, but they were only made public last week.
The company argued that the glacier impacts “obey multiple climate, geographic and technical factors. The company also says that the decrease in size of the bodies of ice has not affected the hydric resources of the area, nor the availability of water in the basin of the Huasco River.
Barrick attorney José Antonio Urrutia said the company “rejects the accusations of intervention or destruction of the bodies of ice.” He said the defense would show “categorically and with abundant amount of scientific and specialized science in the matter … over he past 10 years”.
The miner is under fire from communities in the Huasco Valley, which have accused it of affecting the “right to life” of the Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza glaciers, as well as polluting the water resources in the area.
Local residents have presented a new complaint to the country’s Superintendancy of Environment over poor management and a low level of investment. According to the complaint, the lack of investment led to damaged canals and mudslides that have affected some waterways.
Barrick Gold says it expected to spend some $8-$8.5 billion USD in the project. To date, it has already invested $4.2 billion USD. The company expects first gold production to come in by mid-2014.