Argentina’s provincial government in Tierra del Fuego on Sept. 21 signed into a law a ban on open-pit mining and use of certain toxic chemicals in this southernmost province. Seven other of the country’s 23 provinces — Chubut, Córdoba, Mendoza, Neuquén, Río Negro, Tucumán and San Luis — already have bans on open-pit mining in place.
The provincial law, which legislators approved in late August, prohibits large-scale open-pit metallic mining exploration, including that for minerals like gold, silver, platinum, copper, iron, lead and aluminum, precious stones, as well as quartz, mica and limestone.
The law is aimed at preventing environmental damage, social and health risks, as well as ensuring the sustainability of water resources, biodiversity and a balanced ecosystem.
Under the new legislation, local communities must be consulted before permits for any kind of mining project can be approved; it also calls for compensation funds and environmental remediation insurance for the projects that are already underway to repair damages after the mines’ closure.
The use of substances such as hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, nitric acid, ammonia, sodium bromide, cyanide, sodium cyanide, mercury and sodium iodide in any stage of mining, including exploration and extraction, are also prohibited.