Saturday, December 22, 2007

There's Gold in Futaleufu?

Just a few years ago, determined opposition in the Argentine city of Esquel stopped an ill-advised gold mining project that might have caused serious cyanide leaching runoff into local streams and rivers. Now, however, a similar proposal has appeared near the Chilean town of Futaleufú, just across the border (and bordering Argentina's Los Alerces National Park. The project is set for the Río Espolón, a nearly pristine recreational river that's a tributary of the mighty Río Futaleufú, by acclamation one of the world's top-ten whitewater rivers (and a top trout stream, to boot). The companies in question are Canada's Kinross Gold Corporation and U.S.-based Geocom Resources Inc.

Unlike Esquel, which is a small city able to project itself nationally, Futaleufú is only a village in an isolated part of Chile difficult to reach by road or air (in fact, communications are much better with the neighboring Argentine province of Chubut, where Esquel is located). Esquel could make noise, but that will be harder for Futaleufú.

International rafting and kayaking companies located in Futaleufú are particularly concerned, but their impact on the economy is relatively small compared to minerals interests in mining-friendly Chile. A new blog, though, analyzes the issues.

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