Argentine high court upholds historic glacier law


Conservationists say the huge Veladero gold mine in the province of San Juan must be shut down under the terms of the glacier-protection law recently upheld by the country’s Supreme Court. (Photo courtesy of San Juan Mining Chamber)

One of Argentina’s hardest-fought environmental battles in recent years took a favorable turn for conservationists this month when the country’s Supreme Court upheld an ambitious law that prohibits mining and other activities in close proximity to the country’s glaciers. Long an agricultural powerhouse thanks to crop production on its fertile Pampas plain, Argentina in the 1990s moved aggressively to tap new sources of wealth—gold, silver and other metals—high in the Andes. There, open-pit mining projects multiplied thanks to tax incentives, eager foreign investors and favorable world prices. But grassroots opposition to mining and its environmental costs spread, too, and scored some impressive wins. Among these were bans on open-pit mining by seven of the country’s 23 provincial governments, which under the Argentine Constitution hold sway over environmental matters. In recent years, the ongoing fight over large-scale mining has focused on the glacier-protection law... [Log in to read more]

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