Chile holds the world record for glaciers destruction with more than 340 hectares affected, equivalent to more than 30 million cubic meters of water.
Environmental organizations and civil society are protesting Saturday to reject the government’s bill to protect glaciers, which according to them is designed to benefit mining in the country.
The first bill to protect glaciers was drafted and presented to Congress in 2014, and although environmentalists said it was insufficient, the law established some standards of protection and preservation. However, the current legislation is watered down at the behest of the mining industry.
The protests will beat the Plaza Italia, a major landmark in the capital of Santiago, where the organization Territories in Defense of Glaciers will read an official statement with their demands.
Chile holds the world record of glaciers destruction with more than 340 hectares affected, equivalent to more than 30 million cubic meters of water. The main cause for this ecological disaster is mining, which not only affects glaciers, but also pollutes rivers.
The coordinator of the Territories in Defense of Glaciers, Constanza San Juan, said the project aims to finally legalize the intervention and destruction of glaciers, thus violating human rights and undermining indigenous rights.
San Juan added that if the law continues untouched, more than 70 percent of Chileans could be left without access to water.
Environmentalists say most of this damage has been caused by Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold, which operates the Pascua-Lama mining mega project in the Andes mountains straddling the border between Chile and Argentina. It is one of the largest gold reserves in the world.
The glaciers of Chile cover 2.7 percent of the land area of the country and have a considerable impact on its water supply, as they provide up to 70 percent of river flow in times of drought.