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With over 90 thousand square kilometers and just two important rivers, the Argentinean Province of San Juan is literally a desert, except form the oasis that feed on the water reservoir and channels from the mountain melting.
These rivers are the San Juan and the Jachal Rivers. In Jachal River, Canadian mining company Barrick Gold poured over two million liters of cyanide solution last September. An example of the risks warned by a neighbors’ movement when at early 2000s these extractive megaprojects started to be strongly implemented.
Another of the effects on the San Juan desert are the mirage of job sources that the gold and silver mining would bring, especially with the fall of the international price of these minerals.
"The idea wasn´t to oppose mining, but extraction methods, but this is how they imposed it and now we are paying the consequences", said Rene Gonzalez, trader of Barreal town with four thousand inhabitants and member of the mining resistance movement that today is demobilized.
Rene said that Barrick Gold workers are seasonal and that when they are hired they have to give up their labor rights. The extractive project has been operating for eight years and the municipal government receives a bimonthly payment that has allowed it to build more highly resistant roads. "These are mining roads to transport minerals, not to benefit the population of these isolated departments of San Juan", said Rene.
Meanwhile, the Buenos Aires Judiciary requested experts of the Argentinean Water Institute to obtain samples from the Jachal River, in San Juan, by the Barrick Gold company in Veladero mine. The pouring of the toxic solution is confirmed. Now, the Judiciary is looking to determine the responsibilities and its possible consequences.
To take the samples it is necessary to enter Barrick Gold lands. If the Canadian mining refuses to do so, a warrant is necessary to take the samples at 4 thousand meters high, where the river source is located and near the area of the spill.
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