Monday, November 5, 2007

Geocom / Kinross Espolon Gold Mine - Project Timeline & History

U.S. Gold Mining Company to Strip Mine the Espolon Valley in Region X of Southern Chile

Geocom y Kinross Gold Corp., started quietly investigating the Gold mining possibilities in the Espolon valley just outside the town of Futaleufu in the Northern part of the Patagonia several years ago. The project was shelved for several years, and recently the company has again brought the the project to active status. They are also currently investigating other mining opportunities around the Patagonia including copper mines. Every indication is that this project will seriously go forward as the Gold and other minerals are relatively accessible, but at the cost of the environment of the Futaleufu and Espolon river valleys.

Espolon lake, Espolon river, and the Futaleufu river at risk

The Espolon Valley is located upriver in the tributaries to the Espolon Lake and the river Espolon that flow in to the Futaluefu river. The location of the proposed mining operation is on the watershed directly upstream from the town of Futaleufu approximately fifteen kilometers, in one of the most environmentally sensitive points in the Patagonia. Ultimately the Espolon valley watershed flows all the way to the Pacific Ocean, passing numerous other communities along the way.

Sustainable Development vs. Environmental Destruction

This watershed is also key to the tourism industry, that has been heavily invested in by such organizations as the inter-American bank, the Chilean government, Douglas Tompkins, and others as a means of sustainable development and to protect the environment of the region. The Espolon lake and river is the spawning grounds for trout and salmon, a key source of tourism revenue. The Futaleufu river is World famous as one of the top white water rivers in the World. Simply the basic disturbances inherent in strip mining operations, let alone the contamination from toxic chemicals used in Gold mining operations, will insure the total destruction of the ecosystem, economy, and will have a serious environmental impact perhaps as far as the Chilean coast of the Pacific ocean where the fishing industry would be devastated.

More than 350 Square miles of the Chilean Patagonia at risk

The mining company is buying mineral rights to approximately 91,000 hectares in the area. Mineral surveyors that have worked in the area for the company have indicated that it may be one of the richer deposits of gold ever discovered in Chile, and perhaps South America. There is also reports of deposits of Copper in the same area of the Espolon Valley.

Argentina has already rejected similar projects just across the border from Chile's southern region X, where the Futaleufu river flows across the border and the Espolon river enters the Futaleufu river just about 20 km from the proposed mine.

Here is the full article.