MONTEVIDEO – President Tabare Vazquez has ruled out the construction “for the time being” of a deepwater port near Uruguay’s border with Brazil because the facility is part of the Aratiri open-pit iron mining project, which is “now on hold.”
“On one side, we have a mega deepwater port connected to iron mining, which requires great movements and a big port,” Vazquez said, referring to Aratiri, a project that envisions the excavation of pits in South America’s heartland.
“On the other side, is the country without such exploitation,” Vazquez said in a press conference in Melo, the capital of the northeastern province of Cerro Largo.
“The Aratiri project is currently on hold and I don’t have any indication that it will be reactivated soon,” the president said.
Former President Jose Mujica, who left office earlier this year, argued that the deepwater port was indispensable and said before a meeting in 2014 of the Mercosur Parliament that the facility was “essential for the functioning of the Latin American region.”
Vazquez said the priority now was coming up with a national plan to improve the port in Montevideo and others on Uruguay’s coast.
“This confirms that the (deepwater) port was contingent on Aratiri’s development, and without Aratiri it cannot be built,” said Raul Viñas, a member of the Uruguay Free of Mega-Mining Movement.
“When a mining industry wants to set up business, it needs to lower its costs and tries to involve the government in the construction of a port, as is happening in two other cases in Brazil,” Viñas said.