In a solemn ceremony this week in Punta Arenas, the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica Regional Council, CORE, was granted under concession for half a century the Chilean Antarctic base of Arturo Prat.
This means that Magallanes Region will now have its own extension in Antarctic territory to undertake development and research programs in conjunction with the Chilean Antarctic Institute, "definitively making Punta Arenas the main access to Antarctica and confirming the close links between the Region and Antarctic exploration", said Magallanes mayor Jaime Jelicic.
"Today we're honoring our identity, becoming true Antarctic operators which will facilitate our objective of becoming in the mid term a world reference of knowledge, access and sustainable activities in the polar region", added Jelicic.
The Arturo Prat base is located in Greenwich island, (latitude 62o. 30 South and longitude 59o. 41 West) (South Shetlands) and was founded in February 1947 by the Chilean Navy which set up a weather and radio station.
The base has a long experience in scientific research, mainly animal biology and since the 1993/94 season became the Antarctic Marine Science Station with the purpose of monitoring oceanographic dynamics and life supporting light and temperature cycles, plus an observation post of sea birds and mammals. However alleging budget reasons the Chilean Navy decided to abandon the station February 2004 and Magallanes Region offered to step in.
The base has almost 1.400 square meters of buildings including a main module, an emergency module which can hold 12 to 15 people; a two stories lab, garage, provisions deposit, work shop and incinerator.