Headlines: Punta Arenas casino operacional in 2009; BHP Billiton interested in Magallanes coal deposits; State of the art sheep abattoir; Spain's major Antarctic research expedition; Fidel Castro Junior visits Chilean fiords; Reediting Darwin's voyage of the Beagle.
Punta Arenas casino operacional in 2009Next July works for the future Punta Arenas casino, five star hotel and other amenities complex involving a 38.4 million US dollars investment are scheduled to begin, according to Chile's Casinos and Games Superintendence. The Punta Arenas project, one of fifteen authorized in Chilean territory should be completed in 23 months and 20 days including the 80 room hotel, spa, gymnasium, convention center and closes swimming pool, reports the local press. This means Punta Arenas should have the casino operating for the summer of 2009. BHP Billiton interested in Magallanes coal deposits The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton is considering two coal mining projects in the Riesco Island, in Magallanes region. According to the Chilean Mines Ministry delegate in Magallanes Mario Maturana, who recently met top officials of the corporation in Punta Arenas, BHP Billiton has undertaken feasibility studies in the region and is negotiating with the local Otway mining company the acquisition of exploration and exploitation rights in the Riesco island extending until 2017. The company is also interested in other similar licenses in the region currently in the bidding process. "They had an assessment of the potential of the area which they undertook between October 2005 and May last year. Based on this data they've decided on additional exploration and some recent test drilling", revealed Maturana. Apparently BHP Billiton has also contracted an environmental impact assessment study plus requesting a maritime concession in the Otway coast line to build a loading jetty. BHP Billinton is one of the world's leading companies in coal for energy and the Riesco Island holds Chile's largest coal deposits in the country. Reserves are estimated in 3.3 billion tons which add up to five billion is the Brunswick and Rubens-Natales peninsula are also included. However the coal is of the sub-bituminous kind and special combustion plants are needed. State of the art sheep abattoir An abattoir with a daily processing capacity of 1.200 to 2.400 sheep is under construction in Punta Arenas and once finished should be the most advanced of its kind in South America, according to the local press. Agromar belonging to the Marin family is demanding a 10 million US dollars investment and should considerably increase the capacity of Magallanes Region as Chile's leading exporter of lamb and mutton. The premises include a roofed area of 7.000 square meters and once finished and operating will have created 100 new direct jobs and 120 indirect jobs. Agromar will be equipped with New Zealand technology and once operational is expected to be licensed by all the markets to which Chile exports lamb and mutton. The plant will also have environmental friendly waste recycling equipment (organic gas) which should help save energy. Chile's Development Corporation has helped to finance the feasibility and blueprint of the project Magallanes Region has 52% of Chile's flock, approximately two million sheep, and has been certified as an organic producing area. Spain's major Antarctic research expedition Spain's oceanographic vessel Las Palmas this week called in Punta Arenas for three days to load provisions and change crew before sailing back to Antarctica. Las Palmas is involved in its major Antarctic research expedition in 14 years, seven and a half months long, which extends until next May and is basically marine biology sciences. Twenty scientists, half of them Spanish make up the team of international experts. The 36 crew members belong to the Spanish Royal Navy. The vessel as a rule spends twenty days in Antarctic waters and then calls in alternatively in Punta Arenas and Ushuaia for three days. Fidel Castro Junior visits Chilean fiords A group of renowned scientists invited by Chile's Center for Scientific Studies called in Punta Arenas this week on board the Chilean Navy "Aquiles". The group of scientists includes 2004 Physics Nobel Prize winners Frank Wilczek and David Gross, and the eldest son of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart. Claudio Bunster director of Chile's Center for Scientific Studies said the cruise, an annual event, on this occasion included scientists who participated in an international conference on glaciers that took place in Valdivia "and we therefore took the opportunity to visit glaciers in the south of Chile". Comparing the scenery with the satellite pictures "gives us a clear idea of how serious is the climate change impact on glaciers which keep receding", said Bunster. As to Fidel Jr., a nuclear physics scientist Bunster said he considers himself "another scientist" and he's rather "bashful". "He likes to keep to the team and get on with his research work, and avoids all politics talk", underlined Bunster who added "he was greatly impressed by the fiords and beauties of southern Chile". Reediting Darwin's "voyage of the Beagle"An Italian children's science books writer who is re-editing the 1831/36 travels of British naturalist Charles Darwin arrived this week in Punta Arenas. Luca Novelli is planning to end the experience 12 February 2009 in London, the bicentenary of the explorer's birth. The Darwin 2 "The voyage of the Beagle" project has been planned on several legs and at the end of each Novelli writes a book. The first of them was "Patagonia-Tierra del Fuego travel with Darwin". The second trip on which Novelli is currently involved begun October 2005 and from Punta Arenas he will be leaving for the Galapagos Islands. On this trip with travel partners Ingrid Gattermann and Federico Cannobio will be visiting the islands and volcanoes along the Chilean coast described by Darwin during his first world incursion. Novelli's project has the sponsoring of WWF, ICOM (International Council of Museums-Unesco) and the Natural History Museum of Milan.