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News > Chile

Chilean Environment Defenders Reject Dominga Mining Project

  • "Say NO to Dominga. This project would affect the habitat of many species." | Photo: Twitter/ @monosdelatele

Published 17 January 2023

This project, which includes the extraction of iron and copper concentrates, intends to install port facilities in the heart of the Humboldt Archipelago, a global biodiversity hotspot.

On Tuesday, environmental organizations asked Chile's President Gabriel Boric to reject the Dominga mining project as it poses a serious threat to a unique natural reserve in the world.


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Promoted by former President Sebastian Piñera, this project contemplates the construction of a port for the commercialization of iron and copper on the central coast of Chile next to an area in which 80 percent of Humboldt penguins live there.

"We reiterate our rejection of the Andes Iron company's Dominga port mining project, which intends to settle in the heart of the Humboldt Archipelago," said the NGOs in their letter addressed to the Boric administration.

"We cannot understand that for more than a decade this area of unique environmental wealth in Chile continues to be threatened and at the mercy of short-term interests. We have seen at least three governments go by without any of them having been able to protect it from the various attempts that have been made to industrialize it," they added.

The tweet reads, "The ominous Dominga megaproject is a threat to the Humboldt Archipelago and to the hundreds of species living in this sanctuary, including whales that come to shelter and feed from all over this planet in crisis."

Until now, only sustainable economic activities such as artisanal fishing and tourism have been allowed in the Humboldt Archipelago, which is an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot where visitors enjoy one of the best whale watching seasons in the world.

"During the environmental assessment process and in the courts, we have reiterated that the Dominga project is incompatible with the environment and with the sustainable jobs that already exist in the area and that are the livelihood of many families," the NGOs said.

"Various scientific studies carried out by national and international academics have described the ecosystem formed by eight islands as unique and irreplaceable due to the existence of abundant nutrients that make this area the habitat and/or transit area for different species," they added.

Unfavorably rated by the authorities in 2017, the Dominga project includes the extraction of iron and copper concentrates some 16 kilometers from the La Higuera commune.

In 2021, the Pandora Papers revealed that this mining project was illegally sold in 2010 in the British Virgin Islands. The journalistic investigation revealed a controversial purchase clause between the then president Piñera and his friend Carlos Alberto Delano.

According to the leaked information, the last payment of the transaction was conditional on the Chilean state not declaring the company's area of operations as part of a protected environmental area.

In May 2022, the Supreme Court rejected the legal appeals presented by NGOs that opposed the ruling of an environmental court, which determined that Dominga could be processed again before the authorities of the Executive branch.

On Wednesday, therefore, President Boric's Committee of Ministers will deliberate again on this mining project.

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