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By Darío Aranda
The oldest university in the country rejected in 2009 the funds from Minera Alumbrera (3,300,000 pesos), basing harsh criticism on the environmental, economic, social, quality of life and human rights effects that mega-mining implies, quite the opposite. to what companies, governors and national officials support.
The rejection generated by mega-mining in Argentina was installed on the public agenda in recent weeks by dint of assemblies, truck blockades, prosecution of the protest and repressions. Companies and officials allege that "people are not informed" or "environmentalists have dogmatic positions." The Union of Citizen Assemblies (UAC) published an open letter (1) to the President in which they refute the arguments that try to delegitimize the knowledge of the peoples in struggle. But the assemblies are not alone. An example: the National University of Córdoba (UNC) is the oldest university in Argentina, founded in 1613, close to its 400th anniversary. A benchmark among Latin American universities, in 2009 it rejected 3.3 million pesos of funds from Minera Alumbrera-Yacimientos Mineros de Agua de Dionisio (YMAD).
Months of analysis and debates
• “After several months of analysis and debate, the National University of Córdoba finally rejected the funds from Minera Alumbrera. It did so through its Superior Council, which after two hours of exposure by its members and in a room full of representatives of different environmental organizations, unanimously approved the project in general ", highlights the statement dated December 15, 2009 ( 2).
The grounds for the rejection are fully valid:
• ”It has been empirically verified, and is supported by the vast majority of the reports collected by this body, that the mining activity that takes place in the open pit and involves the use of chemical procedures for the extraction of metals, severely damages the environment and consequence to human beings and their communities ”.
Water consumption: 1 mining = 2 Catamarcas
The National University of Córdoba affirms, verbatim, that the productive activities of Minera Alumbrera "have short, medium and long term socio-environmental impacts." And highlights:
• ”The high consumption of strategic natural resources and energy: it is authorized to consume 100 million liters of water per day from the Campo del Arenal aquifer reserve; high consumption (almost double the consumption of the entire Province of Catamarca) ”.
• ”The negative effects on the basins of several rivers: on the Vis Vis-Amanao, because the tailings dam is located at its head; on the Santa María river due to the capture and high consumption of groundwater in Campo del Arenal; on Salí and Dulce because the residual liquids from the Filters Plant in Tucumán are discharged through the Storm Drain 2 (DP2) ”.
It is what it is
• ”In March 2007, the Ministry of Mining of the Nation prepared a report in which it refers to the high metal contents in the DP2 channel, indicating that the effluent from the Minera Alumbrera treatment plant presents concentrations of total dissolved solids ( SDT) sulfates and molybdenum detected in the beginning of the channel that exceed the regulated limits ”.
• ”Pollution due to acid drainage mainly linked to the presence of pyrite (iron sulfide), a mineral that accumulates in tailings dumps and dikes and which under certain conditions is transformed into sulfuric acid, which is leached by rain ”.
• "The long-term effects of the acid drainage process, with all its socio-environmental implications: after twenty years this effect can still be seen today after the abandonment of mines with similar characteristics."
• Another effect mentioned by the University of Córdoba: ”The serious and irreversible destruction of ecosystems, contamination of water sources, the magnitude and danger of inputs and effluents, a profound impact on flora, fauna, habitat and the local landscape, with the consequent loss of biodiversity and the general degradation of the minimum socio-environmental conditions required for the remaining economic activities, for human health ”.
Culture and economy
• "This type of activity (mining) generally produces a subjugation of the cultural patterns of the local population, which, added to the empirically verified environmental damage, degrades the quality of life in the affected regions."
• "The metal mining activity does not have a high economic impact in relation to the generation of wealth, nor is its contribution to GDP high."
Company or large capital?
The University of Córdoba states that mining activity has benefited, throughout the nineties, by legislation "very favorable (...) this situation requires a prompt modification of the legislation that gives priority to the general interest of society Argentina and not to the interests of big capital involved in mining mega-enterprises ”.
• ”Nor are the practices of business patronage practiced by Minera Alumbrera under the ideological coating of the so-called 'socially responsible mining', 'corporate social responsibility', or 'sustainable mining', to silence critical voices and provoke the indirect capture of wills and the limitation of the exercise of the freedom of opinion of the communities and judicializing the social protest, as it was denounced by the Ombudsman of the Nation (Action Nº 2538/05) ”.
• ”Minera Alumbrera has developed, develops and finances, with educational institutions of primary and secondary level and even universities, training and academic activities that are used as instances of legitimation of the company and its extractive ventures and that through validation strategies protected by the supposed neutrality of scientific knowledge as an asymmetric and vertical variable, it seeks to inhibit and / or control conflicts and nullify the legitimacy of citizen rights, disavowing, discrediting, and / or making resistance to the development model it advocates invisible ”.
• "The socio-environmental problem not only involves economic and technical dimensions, but also fundamentally involves aspects related to human rights and the well-being of the communities."
Article 9 of the resolution, which rejects the funds, had 9 negative and 29 positive votes.
"Regardless of this, it was clear at the venue that all council members recognized and repudiated the negative impact of this economic activity, a position that was ratified in the unanimous approval of the project in general," states the statement from the National University of Córdoba.
Dario Aranda - Journalist - Argentina - La Vaca - lavaca.org
3- www.unc.edu.ar/seccion/novedades/2009/dic Diciembre/RHCS-1308-2009.pdf