The governments of Chile and Argentina will sign an agreement this week pushing forward the development of another massive bi-national mining project. The deal is intended to hurry approval of work at Las Flechas mineral deposits by using existing treaties and protocols to govern its construction.
Under the agreement, the 1.5 billion US dollars project, straddling Chile's Region III and Argentina's San Juan Province, would fall under the scope of the nearly ten-year old Treaty of Integration and Mining. That deal was signed by the two nations during the approval process for the controversial Pascua Lama mine and its protocols have also been used to streamline the development of the Amos-Andre and Vicuna bi-national mine projects. Chile's Undersecretary of Mining Marisol Aravena will travel to Buenos Aires Wednesday to sign the agreement with her Argentine counterparts. Officials note that while this is only a "first step" in the approval process, the use of extant protocols is a valuable tool in expediting two-party talks. Investment at "Las Flechas" is a joint venture between the Japanese Jogmec and Brazilian CVRD mining companies. While the project remains in its infancy, production estimates and extraction techniques are not concrete. Other projects approved under the same treaty – such as the massive Pascua Lama mine also set for Region III – have been met with considerable public debate over the environmental consequences of development despite a government stamp of approval. For their part, the financiers of "Las Flechas" have a mixed environmental record. Jogmec has a large division centred on making mine production less damaging to the environment. However, CVRD has come under criticism in the past for pollutants emitted at some of its plants. The Santiago Times