BUENOS AIRES – Greenpeace on Friday placed mining cars filled with gold-colored skulls outside Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s official residence to denounce his government’s support for Barrick Gold, a mining firm the watchdog says poses a threat to glaciers and the environment.
Fifteen Greenpeace activists wearing suits and ties and miners’ hard hats carried out the protest in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo, outside the presidential palace, demanding that Macri uphold a law the prohibits mining activity near glaciers.
They also demanded that he shut down Toronto-based Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine in the western province of San Juan, where a new cyanide spill occurred in September.
A year earlier, more than 1 million liters (264,200 gallons) of cyanide solution spilled at that same gold mine, an incident that Argentine authorities are still investigating.
Despite a 2010 law prohibiting any industrial activity in glacial or periglacial areas, the Environment Ministry recently published a document indicating that up to 44 mining operations are active in these protected spaces.
“The government seems to be promoting mining activity to the detriment of the environment,” Gonzalo Strano, coordinator of Greenpeace’s glacier campaign in Argentina, said.
He said, however, that the policies of the leftist governments of former President Cristina Fernandez and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, who governed Argentina for 12 years before Macri took office in December 2005, were no more environmentally friendly.
“Every administration since Carlos Menem (who governed from 1989 to 1999) has supported the mining sector without concerning themselves with the environment,” he said.