Latin America & Caribbean

Canadian firm Osisko halts Argentina mining project

Protesters at the Famatina project
Residents have been blocking access to the project for weeks

Canadian mining company Osisko has suspended a gold mining project in Argentina after protests by locals.

Osisko said it would put its operation in north-western La Rioja province on hold if it did not get the backing of the local population.

Hundreds of people protested at the Canadian embassy in Buenos Aires last week, saying that the Famatina project would pollute the environment.

Osisko says it conducts environmentally responsible exploration.

Local residents, supported by environmental groups such as Greenpeace, had been holding a series of protests against the project.

Vocal opposition

On 2 January they barricaded the main road leading to the site, a blockade which still remains in place.

On Thursday, demonstrators marched on the governor's office in La Rioja, demanding that Governor Luis Beder Herrera heed their demands to stop the project, or resign.

And on Friday, a delegation travelled to the Canadian embassy in Buenos Aires to make its opposition to the project known.

The protesters say mining of the Famatina mountain would require a million litres of water a day and the use of cyanide to extract precious metals.

Osisko said Famatina was still only an exploration project, with "no current plan, design or intent for any mining operations".

The company said that the development of the mine was still highly hypothetical, since little was known about the amount, quality and location of its mineral resources.

In a statement published on its website, Osisko said it would prepare an information and consultation programme about the project.

It said that if "there was no social license for exploration and development around the Famatina project area, no work would be conducted".

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