Last update:

Pascua Lama Mine, Chile

Following the Chilean Supreme Court resolution, the Pascua-Lama mine is temporarily interrupted since 2013.


Canadian multinational corporation Barrick Gold proposed, via its Chilean affiliate Minera Nevada, a mining project called Pascua Lama to the Chilean government for the extraction of gold, silver and copper concentrate. Pascua Lama is located in a valley of the Andes at an altitude of 4,500 m (14,800 ft). The project is bi-national since the exploitation site is located on both sides of the Argentinian-Chilean border. The two countries signed a special agreement in 2007 which diminished their sovereignty powers, in order to favor and facilitate the extractivist activities. Local residents, who live off of the land, worry about the effects of the mining on such a fragile ecosystem and the mining companies plan to displace the glaciers. Along with NGOs and environmental associations, they strongly oppose the project. In Argentina too, the local population mobilized against it. The mine’s operations are interrupted since September 25th 2013, the day the Supreme Court of Chile’s resolution suspended the mining project between the two countries because of the company’s serious environmental wrongdoings. It is not a permanent decision since the Supreme Court gives to the mining multinational the possibility to reopen once complying to the environmental requirements.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Pascua Lama Mine, Chile
State or province:Huasco
Location of conflict:Alto del Carmen
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Mineral ore exploration
Mineral processing
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Glacier ice are to be lost for the extraction of million tons of ore a year. Water requirements for the ore extraction is about 350 litres/second.

Project area:30
Level of Investment:1,5 billion USD
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:2001
Company names or state enterprises:Barrick Gold Corporation from Canada
Minera Nevada Company from Chile
Relevant government actors:CONAMA - Chile, COREMA (Regional environment authority) Region III, Water General Direction, Superintendencia de Medio Ambiente, Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Sernageomin), Supreme Court
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Argentine-Chilean Citizen and Institution "No to Pascua Lama" and Veladero Mines Coalition, Huasco Valley Inhabitants Community, Anti Pascua Lama Citizen Movement, OLCA, RAJAS
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Global warming, Noise pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:The definitive stop of the mine activity and the restoration of the area.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The mine project is suspended since 2013. Late 2015, Barrick Gold undertook a temporary (of at least two years) but formal shutdown of the mine [1].
Updated 24th of January 2018: the operations have been definitively closed [Notification from OLCA 18th of January 2018)
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Mining Integration Agreement between Chile and Argentina, 2007

Specific Additional Protocol to the Mining Integration Agreement between Chile and Argentina, 2004

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Conflictos Ambientales en Chile. Pablo San Martin Saavedra, Ed. Olca, 1997
[click to view]

Conflictos Ambientales: una Oportunidad para la Democracia. Cesar Padilla, Pablo San Martin, Ed. Olca - IEP, 1995
[click to view]

Surpreme Court of Chile Resolution, 25/09/2013 (in Spanish)
[click to view]

A glocal environmental movement against gold mining: Pascua-Lama in Chile, Leire Urkidi. Ecological Economics, 2010, vol. 70, issue 2, pages 219-227
[click to view]

Conflictos por el Agua en Chile, Programa Chile Sustentable, 2012
[click to view]

Pascua Lama: controvertido proyecto minero pone en riesgo los glaciares, el agua y el desarrollo agrícola en el Valle del río Huayco, Norte de Chile, Chile Sustentable, 2010
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

¿Cuanto oro vale la sed de nuestros hijos?, OLCA, 15/05/2009
[click to view]

Un fallo suspende el proyecto minero de Pascua-Lama, 26/09/2013
[click to view]

Nueva derrota judicial de Pascua Lama: Barrick pierde recurso de Casación en la Corte Suprema, OLCA, 30/12/2014
[click to view]

Barrick Gold Faces Determined Opposition at Pascua Lama and Veladero, 21/12/2005
[click to view]

[1] Cierre de Pascua-Lama podría llegar hasta 2020 por dudas en optimización del proyecto, Mineria Chile, 15/12/2015
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Lo que empezó a destruir Barrick Gold - Video: Colores de Pascua Lama, Olca, 2007
[click to view]

Other documents

Protest opposing Barrick Gold’s proposed Pascua Lama project. Santiago, Chile, 12/11/2005 OLCA
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl
Last update24/01/2018
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