Fires in Chubut: On the gold that is under the Forests

Fires in Chubut: On the gold that is under the Forests

By Federido Soria

From the time of the disastrous "conquest of the desert" (led by whom the Argentine government continues to keep stamped on the $ 100.- bills), the forest turned out to be an obstacle to the "development and progress" of the nation ... Consequently it had to be eliminated, and thus, incidentally finish running to the last natives who had managed to escape from that raid and hide in it. For this reason, the "grazes" were carried out between 1900 and 1910, where almost all the native forest that existed in the currently populated areas of the Patagonian Andes and the surrounding valleys was massively burned. But, in subsequent decades, part of the forest regenerated and continued to be a problem for colonization first and then for the expansionism of the extractive frontier.

Today, in the face of the fierce fires of enormous extensions that affect Patagonia and the certainty that they have been caused, history repeats itself once again and it is clear to us that in 1879 Patagonia was incorporated into the territory of the Argentine Nation. to become an intraterritorial enclave from which to plunder as much as possible; and that this status (conferred in fact at that time) has not changed to this day. Uncontrolled urban growth, real estate businesses, elite tourism, extraction of wood from the native forest, forest monocultures, fracking and mega-mining, are part of the current looting and pollution model, whose dire consequences lie in wait for much of the Argentine territory, they are also present in the Patagonian Andes, with the aggravation that the native forest is, as we have already said, an obstacle that must be eliminated.


According to the Cadastre and Mining Register of the Province of Chubut (the province's public mining registration document), there are a total of 4,895 mining concessions granted, which in total cover just over 20% of the provincial territory. More than 60% of the total concession area is for the search, exploration or extraction of gold or uranium. Each mining concession is a piece of territory that the provincial state grants to individuals for prospecting (search), exploration (demonstration) and exploitation (mines). In other words, a piece of the territory where the Government is subscribing to the possibility that the individual who owns it, on his own account or that of third parties, may develop an exploitation not desired by the population that inhabits that territory or its surroundings.

In the preceding map, it can be seen that the rights of mienros are distributed in almost all the regions of the province. There is a significant concentration on the central plateau; and although there are some deposits already determined and ready to be exploited (mines), which are the red polygons on the map; On the plateau, polygons of other colors dominate (searches and demonstrations), which means that, roughly, currently, mega-mining corporations in that region are mainly focused on the search for minerals rather than their extraction. But if we look at the mountain range, we will see that the red polygons predominate over those of other colors, which clearly shows that the minerals have already been discovered and quantified, since they now appear in the Mining Register and Cadastre as registered mines. There are towns like El Hoyo, Epuyén, Cholila and Esquel, which are completely surrounded by dozens of these red polygons. The problem is that in the mountain range there are forests, (as well as there are lakes, there are rivers with their springs and there are glaciers) and the gold is under the forest. Given the enormous size of the hydro-toxic metalliferous mega-mining operations (open pit wells, tailings dumps and tailings dikes), in order for them to extract the gold, the entire forest must be eliminated, and from now on, fires are leading the way ...

In the cordillerean region of Chubut, 186 mining concessions have been granted, which in total cover an area of ​​almost 400,000 hectares, the vast majority of them to explore or extract gold (see rectangles in the preceding map and data in the table below). All these mining concessions have been registered and granted by the Government of Chubut without carrying out the corresponding prior, free and informed consultation with the native peoples (ILO Convention 169, approved by National Law 24,071, of the year 1992, a date long before the granting of most of the mining rights in force). The procedures for the Environmental Impact Study, Public Hearing and Public Consultation of the files, which according to National Law 25,675, are minimum budgets in force throughout the territory of the Argentine Nation were also not complied with (this issue has also been denounced in Justice ). In addition, these mining concessions are today located within areas covered by the scope of the Forest Law, the Glacier Law, the Biosphere Reserve, the legally constituted Provincial Natural Protected Areas and the ejidos of municipalities that have ordinances. that prohibit mining with the use of toxic substances.

The preceding table and the maps are extracted from the research work on the Mining Cadastre in some Argentine provinces, carried out by the undersigned: go here to view and download the documents.

Beyond the aforementioned irregularities, reviewing the Mining Register, it is observed that, given the age of these concessions, the terms of validity of the same, according to the specific regulations, have largely expired, with which all those concessions should have been automatically canceled by the provincial authority ... However, these mining rights are still in force, therefore, the expectation of exploitation in the mountain region remains.


The provincial officials say that "they are only searches" but they lie, because the official public documents of the Chubut government itself say the opposite: according to the Mining Cadastre (which I repeat, it is an official public document), in the cordilleran area there are searches, demonstrations and mines. Furthermore, of all the concessions registered in the native forest area, half are gold mines (see the preceding table). And even if they were just searches, the expectation of exploitation in those territories remains latent, since a mining right, whatever it may be, implies for the owner the unequivocal expectation of obtaining a profit from the extraction of the metals they are looking for under the forest.

Large transnational corporations do not invest time and money in the processing and acquisition of mining rights just to preserve them as vases in their offices, even if they are "just" searches. We are not going to be so naive or innocent as to think that a first-rate mineral (metal) survey does not pose a future threat to the forest and the community that lives alongside it. Therefore, if there is native forest, there should not be any type of first category mining rights and the others (2nd and 3rd) must comply with the provisions established in the forest law and current environmental legislation, including that of natural areas. protected.


Let us also remind the forgetful officials, that already 20 years ago, the mountain range was the first place chosen in the province of Chubut, to carry out a large-scale open-pit metalliferous exploitation with the use of toxic substances, and that It is no coincidence: "there is the potato" would say any businessman of those corporations, if he had in hand the "Cordilleran Plans" carried out by Military Manufacturing, when that state company monopolized metalliferous exploration throughout the country ... The Huemul Mine , which is located next to Los Alerces National Park, was another example of this, its waste was buried, but even today it continues to contaminate the tributaries of the Percy River with leachate. Then came "El Desquite" and La Meridian, but the residents of Esquel organized, the plebiscite was held, it was won by beating, the project fell, although its lobbyists persist and today they have sold it and changed the name. Now the corporations have set their sights on the plateau, because it is the place where they think they can break the local resistance, however the gold did not leave the mountain range, it is still under the forest and in the heads of those who never could. extract it.


Officials also say that the governor signed a decree to ban mining in the mountain range. The decree to which they refer is 1779/2014, which has no entity, neither legally, nor for purposes, nor procedurally:

Legally: because this decree regulates Provincial Law XVII - No. 127, which was approved at the request of the mega-mining fraud perpetrated in the Legislature, on 11/25/2014, repression through, which overturned the popular initiative presented six months before by all self-summoned neighbors throughout the province. It is worth mentioning in this regard that various legal cases have been initiated against the Government of Chubut, both because of the way in which this law and its regulatory decree were sanctioned, as well as the unconstitutionality of its text.

For the purposes: because according to the limits set in Article 2 of the same, it leaves half of the mountain range area and its forests, out of reach. This means that half of the forests that are demarcated in the maps of the Territorial Ordinance of Native Forests (approved by Provincial Law XVII No. 92 and Decree 639/2012) are not protected from hydrotoxic metalliferous mega-mining by this measure that both announces Governor Martín Buzzi and his officials.

Procedurally: it is useless because the provisions of the decree do not prevail over the ownership of the mining concession established in the Mining Code and there will always be the possibility that the owning corporations exercise that right at any cost, including that some official give them a hand in turn, even though the supposed acquired rights cease to be exercisable when there is a matter of higher legal hierarchy, such as the conservation of the environment, established in Article 41 of the National Constitution, Article 105 of the Chubut constitution, all minimum budget laws and the Mining Code itself.


If we superimpose the map of Territorial Planning of Native Forests (prepared by the Government of Chubut and approved by law), with the map of the Mining Cadastre, we will see that a large number of native forests coincide with mining concessions, most of them are located in Zona Red, where according to the law, you cannot touch a tree forever.

According to the Inventory of Native Forests prepared by the Secretary of the Environment of the Nation, the province of Chubut has approximately 1 million hectares of these forests, of which approximately 400 thousand coincide with the 186 mining concessions of the 1st category, in force in the area of native forests. In other words, currently, and based on what official documents reveal, at least 40% of Chubut's native forests are threatened by hydrotoxic metalliferous mega-mining.


In this way, it is demonstrated, legally and administratively, that the decree that officials of the Government of Chubut announce so much, to prohibit mining in a sector of the mountain range, is inapplicable and is invalid; and that the same will be a law that replicates it. Consequently, the mountain range and its forests will remain unprotected in the face of this specific threat.

It is clear then that, to preserve native forests from predation implied by hydrotoxic metalliferous mega-mining, it is not necessary to ask for any decree or any new law: it is necessary to demand strict compliance with the laws that are already written, with which the Government del Chubut must cancel all mining concessions that are in forested areas. Based on this and for the preservation of our forests to be truly effective, the following slogan should be included in the petitions to the authorities:

"In application of the Precautionary Principle established in Article 4 of National Law 25,675 (General Environmental Law) and in compliance with Article 233 of the Mining Code, which conditions its application to the provisions that are established in due course by virtue of Article 41 of the National Constitution; it is requested to proceed to the immediate cancellation and definitive cancellation of ALL the mining rights of searches, demonstrations and mines, of first category minerals, registered in the Chubut Mining Register and Cadastre, which are in those areas included by the scope of Article 105 of the Constitution of Chubut, the Law of Native Forests (26,331), the Law of Glaciers (26,639), the Andean-North Patagonian Biosphere Reserve, the legally established provincial Protected Natural Areas and municipal ejidos that have ordinances prohibiting mining with the use of toxic substances "


Today, on paper, the forest is protected by law, but below it is the gold, and to the officials of the Government of Chubut, it seems that "the gold does not let them see the forest." The reality of all this is that they are burning everything in the forest and once it has disappeared, there will no longer be obstacles for those who "come for gold, come for everything" finally do their thing. Officials should not be asked for any decree or any new law to prevent hydrotoxic metalliferous mega-mining in our forests, we must demand that, concretely and without turning, they tell us the date on which the Chubut Mining Cadastre will be completely clean in all areas of the province that contain native forests.

Legal background:

Text Provincial Law XVII - Nº 127 (Official Gazette 04/12/2014, page 2) Diciembre%2004,%202014.pdf

Provincial Decree 1779/2014 (Official Gazette 12/30/2014, page 3) Diciembre%2030,%202014.pdf

Text Article 41 of the National Constitution:

Text Article 105 of the Constitution of Chubut:

Text of National Law 24071, (adherence to ILO Convention 169):

Text of National Law 25675, (General Environmental Law):

Text of National Law 26331 (Law of Native Forests):

Text of National Law 26639 (Glacier Law):

Mining Code Text (see especially Article 233, which conditions its application to the provisions that "are established in due course by virtue of Article 41 of the National Constitution"): 40000-44999 / 43797 / texact.htm

Text Provincial Law XVII No. 92 (B.O. 07/07/2010, page 2),%202010.pdf

Text Provincial Decree 639/12 (B.O. 05/30/2012),%202012.pdf


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