One of the largest icefields on Earth is the Campo de hielo, with its Northern (Norte) and Southern (Sur) parts, close together, overlapping the Argentinean-Chilean border.
Many large glaciers flow like ancient rivers from the huge ice cover. Unfortunately there are plans to blow some of these sweetwater reserves up as there are precious metals below. So the glacier has to go and the land will be ‘explored’ and polluted with chemicals and waste. Some quotes:
The Pascua-Lama site is located at 4,600 metres above sea level and extends to both sides of the Argentine-Chilean border, with 80 percent in Chile. The site for the enormous open-pit mine sits under three glaciers known as Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza…The glaciers feed into Huasco Valley, 660 km north of Santiago, supplying irrigation water for some 70,000 small farmers. Barrick originally planned to dig and blast an estimated 300,000 cubic metres of ice over a 20-hectare surface area from the glaciers.. To mitigate ecological impact and prevent ice from melting, the ice would be moved to create a new larger glacier nearby.
The removal of the glaciers “will principally hurt the water supplies of the Huasco Valley in Chile and the Jachal Valley in Argentina,” says Raúl Montenegro, biologist at the University of Cordoba and director of the Argentine Foundation for Environmental Defence (Fundación para la Defensa del Ambiente).
According to Montenegro, the environmental harm has been evident in another Barrick project that involved ice removal: Veladero, located south of the Pascua-Lama in Argentina and with an estimated yield of 12.8 million ounces of gold…Although Pascua-Lama will be 80 percent in Chile, the most serious environmental impact will take place in Argentina, because that is where the mine’s waste dump will be built…At Pascua-Lama, millions of tonnes of ore will be processed using cyanide solution to recover the gold and metal. The waste ore and water contaminated with cyanide will have to be stored in ponds or behind dams.”
See this website for more backgrounders on this upcoming ecological disaster, another piece of or earth sacrificed for dollars, Canadian this time.