The Barrick Veto
The Barrick Veto
Buenos Aires, Argentina—October 23, 2008. The team at the Environment Secretariat could not believe the outcome of the congressional vote the previous day, October 22. Argentina had achieved the world’s first national glacier protection law, the Minimum Standards Law for the Protection of Glaciers and the Periglacial Environment. The law was strongly conservationist and excluded all industrial activities on or near glaciers and in the periglacial environment. It declared glaciers a strategic reserve, defined glaciers broadly to protect even small perennial ice patches, and banned mining in glacier and periglacial areas. Some of the more salient text read:. . . Article 1. The present law establishes the minimum standards for the protection of glaciers and the periglacial environment with the objective of preserving them as strategic reserves of hydrological resources and as providers of water recharge for hydrographic basins. Article 2. Definition. To the effects of the present law, glaciers are all perennial stable or slowly flowing ice mass, with or without interstitial water, formed by the recrystallization of snow, located in different ecosystems, no matter what their size, dimension or state of conservation. The rock debris material of each glacier is considered a constituent part of the glacier, as are the internal and superficial water courses. Likewise, the periglacial environment is the area of the high mountain with frozen grounds that acts as a regulator of hydrological resources. Article 6. Prohibited Activities. The following activities are hereby prohibited on glaciers as they could affect their natural condition or the functions cited in Article 1, or as they would imply their destruction, moving, or interference with their movement, in particular: a)The liberation, dispersion or deposit of contaminating substances or elements, chemical products or residue of any nature or volume. The construction of architectural works or infrastructure with the exception of those necessary for scientific research. Mining or hydrocarbon exploration or exploitation. This restriction includes activities in periglacial areas saturated in ice. Emplacement of industries. . . . It took a while for the implications of the law to sink in.
Keywords: Altar mining project, BGC Engineering, Del Carmen mining project, Goldcorp, Perfil (Argentine daily newspaper), Toronto Stock Exchange, Vegas systems, Xstrata Copper (now Glencore Xstrata), cryoactivism
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