One year after spilling enough cyanide solution to fill at least 40% of an Olympic-size swimming pool at the controversial Veladero mine in Argentina, Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold owned up on September 15 to another cyanide leak at the same gold mining operation in the country’s mountainous and river-rich San Juan province.
Barrick announced it had suspended work at the mine to address the leak, caused on September 8 by a damaged pipe carrying dilute cyanide solution used in gold processing.
The company claimed a “small quantity” spilled and did not make contact with water sources. The impact of a sliding ice chunk is thought to have ruptured the pipe, according to preliminary company assessments.
Environmental campaigners raised the alarm on September 15 over the new spill, saying it offers yet another reason why the spill-prone Veladero mine should be shut down. The open-pit cyanide leaching mine, one of the largest gold mines in the world, is the target of a petition urging President Mauricio Macri to clamp down on Barrick and close Veladero once and for all.
“Impunity won once again,” Gonzalo Strano, campaigner with Greenpeace Argentina, said in a statement on September 15. “Macri should close Veladero like hundreds of thousands of people have asked since last year’s spill.
“This new spill reconfirms that we cannot trust these kinds of companies that, with the complicity of governments in power, lie to and contaminate us.”
The government of San Juan ordered Veladero to suspend operations. However, Greenpeace Argentina said the temporary solution is insufficient in the face of the damage that Barrick has caused and the ongoing threat the mine poses to regional glacier formations.
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