The following plan describes the method and management disposition of the glacier sectors that must be removed during the life of Pascua Lama, as the open pit area is extended towards the position of the glaciers in the Rio El Toro river basin. It is estimated that 10 hectares [25 acres] of glaciers must be removed and adequately managed to avoid the instability of slopes and environmental impacts. The thickness of the glacier sectors that must be removed is estimated at 3 to 5 meters [10–16 ft]. … mining equipment shall be employed as needed for each glacier sector to be managed (basically bulldozers and/or front loaders). … If necessary, controlled explosives shall be used, of small size, to remove the ice. . . . —From Barrick Gold’s “Glacier Management Plan” —the Pascua Lama Mining Project (Argentine-Chilean border; Environmental Impact Study, Annex B, 2001; unofficial translation from the original text in Spanish). . . On September 6, 2006, Romina Picolotti, Argentina’s Secretary of Environment and a career environmentalist, sat reviewing briefing documents to prepare for a meeting regarding the world’s first binational gold mining project straddling the border between Argentina and Chile. Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold mining corporation, had discovered a massive gold and silver reserve in one of the highest, coldest, most desolate and remote areas of the Americas, the Central Andes mountain range, running from Venezuela, through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and down to the southernmost tip of the Americas shared by Argentina and Chile. The Andes are among the highest mountains in the world, with the tallest peaks in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres. Peru’s ranges surpass well above 6,000 meters above sea level (nearly 20,000 ft), whereas the highest mountain of the Americas (the Aconcagua) in Argentina towers at nearly 7,000 m (nearly 23,000 ft). At 6,960 meters (22,835 ft), the Aconcagua, which means “stone sentinel” in the precolonial Quechan native tongue, is covered in snow in the winter and surrounded by massive glaciers year round, some of which are up to 8 km (5 mi) long.
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