Proyecto Minero Pascua Lama

Comunicaciones OLCA, 29/03/07

The other inconvenient truth: Al Gore's visit to Chile financed by Barrick Gold


To our amazement, we have found out that the seminar in Chile "Global Warming and Climate Change: The Moment to Act Has Arrived," in which the ex-Vice President of the United States Al Gore will participate, is being financed by Canadian mining multinational Barrick Gold Corporation.

World freshwater reserves and glaciers are the first ecosystems primarily impacted by global warming, and these and other terrible consequences for the planet are the worries that Al Gore wishes to transmit to society, calling people to action. Therefore, it appears totally contradictory that his presentation in Chile is to be carried out under the auspices of a corporation which has a long history of environmental disasters, corruption and human rights violations.

Ever more well-known are the cases of Barrick Gold's projects Veladero and its impacts upon UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve San Guillermo in San Juan, Argentina; as well as the situation in Lake Cowal, Australia...or the problems in Peru and Tanzania. This list leads all the way to the Goldstrike mine in Nevada, a case well-known by Mr. Gore.

In Chile, Barrick Gold has dubious fame for the highly-opposed Pascua Lama gold project. It has been confirmed that the company is responsible for the destruction of important parts of the glaciers Toro 1, Toro 2, and Esperanza, as Chilean General Office of Waters (DGA) has determined that these glaciers have diminished between 50%-70% due to actions carried out directly by Barrick Gold: Barrick's argument that this was due to global warming was disproved. The mining project threatens to contaminate the rivers of the Huasco Valley and destroy permafrost and rock glaciers, through the construction of huge mining waste piles over the headwaters of the Estrecho river.

Furthermore, Pascua Lama is located directly on the ancestral territory of the indigenous community, Diaguita Huasco Altina. Barrick Gold usurped 50,000 hectares to which they now hold title through various illegal practices.

It therefore does not make sense that one of the principal leaders of world public opinion over the serious plight of planet due to global warming and climate change would come to Chile, financed by the same mining company responsible for the destruction of glaciers and contamination of waters in so many parts of the world.

What is more, it is important to consider that the mining industry consumes between 7% and 10% of all of the energy produced on the planet, the huge majority of which is energy produced by pollutive technologies directly responsible for the acceleration of global warming.

We would like to think that Al Gore has not been informed of how his visit to Chile is being financed. We trust enough in him to think that he would not willingly lend his participation in this image-laundering operation, appearing on behalf of a corporation such as Barrick Gold.

We have sent a card to Al Gore, to pass on to him Barrick Gold's record in Latin America. We are asking him to reconsider his visit to Chile, in the case that this terrible company continues to link itself with his visit to our country.

We are also making contact with environmental organizations, friends of Al Gore in the United States to try and carry out actions to persuade the ex-Vice President to not link himself with a company such as the Barrick Gold Corporation.

Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts OLCA