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Montevideo, April 17th 2024 - 12:17 UTC

 

 

Argentina: Catamarca court orders halt to lithium extraction following environmental complaint

Thursday, March 14th 2024 - 16:28 UTC
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The resolution fully impacts on the economic interests of an extractive activity concentrated in a resource such as lithium. The resolution fully impacts on the economic interests of an extractive activity concentrated in a resource such as lithium.

The Court of Justice in Catamarca (Northern Argentina) has issued a divided ruling ordering a suspension of mining activity in the Salar del Hombre Muerto, impacting lithium production projects. The decision stems from an environmental protection action filed by cacique Román Elías Guitian, urging a comprehensive environmental impact study before new permits are granted.

“This ruling aims to reconcile economy and nature, essential for sustainable development,” stated Judge María Fernanda Rosales Andreotti, emphasizing the need for an integral assessment of mining projects' environmental impact.

The lawsuit, initiated by Guitian and the Atacameños del Altiplano Native Community, alleged that mining projects were authorized without proper consultation and impact assessment, violating environmental regulations.

The resolution fully impacts on the economic interests of an extractive activity concentrated in a resource such as lithium. Now, as Infobae reports, the government and the companies will have to work on the environmental impact studies to define whether the activity can continue its development or not.

Judge Carlos Miguel Figueroa Vicario echoed concerns, highlighting the absence of comprehensive environmental studies for the affected area. He proposed suspending permits until such assessments are completed.

The filing demanded that the province of Catamarca be ordered to revoke the decrees and ministerial resolutions that authorized the mining projects “Ampliación de proyecto Fenix” and “Sal de Vida”, of the companies Livent (Minera del Altiplano SA) and Galaxi Lithium SA, respectively, and any other lithium project located in the Salar del Hombre Muerto sub-basin -shared between the provinces of Salta and Catamarca-, until an interjurisdictional and cumulative environmental impact assessment has been carried out and the environmental baseline of the Sub-basins of Hombre Muerto and Carachi Pampa-Incahuasi or Punilla has been determined, with the due participation of the Federal Environmental Council and the Undersecretariat of Infrastructure and Water Policy of the Ministry of Public Works of the National State, and the right of consultation and participation, at all stages, of the Atacameños del Altiplano Native Community.

The court ordered the Ministry of Mining to conduct a thorough environmental impact study, involving the affected community and ensuring access to information.

The ruling halts new permits and authorizations until the study's completion, affecting ongoing lithium extraction projects in the region. This decision underscores the balancing act between economic development and environmental protection, as the court seeks to safeguard constitutionally protected rights while fostering sustainable practices.

 

 

 

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