After Canadian-based company Barrick Gold assumed responsibility for spilling cyanide solution into rivers in the San Juan Province for the second time in less than a year, province Governor Sergio Uñac warned the company that it would be shut down if their performance from then on was anything but “flawless.”
Yesterday, the company reported that a pipe transporting gold and rocks ruptured, spilling its contents in the surrounding area. Governor Uñac kept his promise, well partially at least. The government of San Juan today ordered Barrick to suspend its operations until it repairs “the fail in the mine’s system.” In a press conference, the province’s Mining Minister Alberto Hansel said that “we are all a bit fed up with these kind of things.”
Although this incident allegedly didn’t cause any environmental damage, the company’s failure to prevent further incidents knowing that it has no margin for error caused the government to make the call. However, the residents of the Jáchal district, located close to the mine, are less than happy with it. They consider the incident to be the last straw and demand the mine be shut down permanently.
Suspensión, Suspensión… Suspensión ?
Cuantas suspensiones vale la salud del pueblo, la fauna y la flora?
— Jáchal No Se Toca (@asambleaxjachal) March 30, 2017
“Suspension, suspension… suspension. How many suspensions are the people, flora and fauna’s health worth?” reads the tweet, making reference to the fact that even though the province also ordered the company to suspend its operations after the last spill, nothing really seems to have changed.
In September 2015, the company caused the largest environmental disaster in Argentine history, when it spilled over a million liters of cyanide solution in different rivers of the province that are close to the mine.
A year later, Barrick had to suspend its operations in another one of its mines, called Pascual Lama, after admitting to a new spill of toxic water onto land within San Juan. As a result of this, it had to shut down a bi-national tunnel it set up to transport rocks from Chile to Argentina, also due to polluting “peri-glacial ground.”