"I will open a new social dialogue process with all the stakeholders, whether they are for or against the mining project," the Chubut governor vowed.
On Monday, Chubut Governor Mariano Arcioni repealed the "Mining Activity Zoning Law" and called for a plebiscite for citizens to express their opinion on this matter.
The specific issues this next plebiscite would address were not advanced by Arconi, a politician who "opposed mining when he was a candidate. Once he became governor, however, he began to see that alternative with different eyes, due to the lack of fiscal resources, "outlet El Cronista recalled.
After being approved by the local Congress on Dec. 15, this law was promulgated by Arcioni, unleashing a strong wave of protests which included the burning of the provincial government headquarters and destruction of public areas.
The Chubut zoning law allowed cyanide-free mining activity in the Telsen and Gastre departments, where the Canadian company Pan American Silver wants to start "Navidad," a millionaire project for the extraction of silver.
Large crowds gather in Argentina’s province of Chubut to celebrate repeal of special law allowing Canada’s Pan American Silver to begin open-pit mining. Grassroots pro-environment feeling is strong in Argentina, especially regarding water-intensive mining.pic.twitter.com/zXENcEBQoc— Uki Goñi (@ukigoni) December 21, 2021
Arcioni said he respects "deeply those who protested peacefully these days" and asked them to give him time to think about how to foster productive investments that generate resources so that the provincial government can finance education, security, and health services.
"During this period, I will open a new process of social dialogue with all the stakeholders, whether they are for or against this mining project," the Chubut governor vowed.
In 2003, Chubut passed a law that prohibits open pit mining and the use of cyanide in mineral processing. This norm hampered the development of the Navidad project, which would take place in one of the world's largest silver deposits.