Magazine article Geographical

Glaciers Threatened by Mine

Magazine article Geographical

Glaciers Threatened by Mine

Article excerpt

CHILE They say some people would move mountains for gold. Well, now Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold is planning to move glaciers in the Huasco Valley in northern Chile to get at an estimated 17.6 million reserve ounces of the metal.

The proposed Pascua Lama mine site is located under three glaciers, so Barrick has devised an ambitious plan to move them. The ice will be transported two kilometres away to the larger Guanaco glacier and added to its shaded southern face.

"The movement of ice is something that people do in northern climates all the time," explained glaciologist and consultant Jeffrey Schmok. "They use shovels to pick up snow from the roads and move it. And that's essentially what's going to happen here." Schmok said it takes a matter of days for the ice to take to the new glacier. The whole process would take four months.

However, locals fear the impact. "Gold mining today is highly chemical, and we worry there could be some sort of spill that would contaminate our waters," said local farmer Ramiro Barrera. …

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