23 April 2020 | Press

The session of the Regional Council of Coquimbo that took place on Tuesday April 21st, ended with cross support of the regional counselors to the development and materialization of the Dominga Mining Project in La Higuera, taking into consideration the positive impacts that the Project would have on the productive sector entirely.  In this manner, with thirteen votes in favor and three against it, the proposed text was approved in the session (see inset).  Voting was as follows: in favor voted the counselors of Elqui: Adriana Peñafiel, Paola Cortés, Marco Antonio Sulantay, Marcelo Castagneto and Lobardo Toledo.  From Limarí: Lidia Zapata, Alberto Gallardo, Teodosio Guerrero and Hanna Jarufe.  From Choapa: Angela Rojas, Jaime Herrera Cristián Rondanelli and Cristián Carriel.  On the other hand, counselors Carlos Galleguillos, Javier Vega and Juan Carlos Codoceo voted against the initiative.

Counselor Marco Antonio Sulantay reaffirmed his favorable stand on the Project, emphasizing that, if the Project is compliance with the current legal and environmental regulations, then the investment must be made.  An initiative of this magnitude would represent an extraordinary opportunity to face the profound social and economic effect that this worldwide health emergency of COVID-19 is having in Chile, stated Sultanay.  Marcelo Castagneto stated, that “we must understand that mining represents almost 40% of the local gross domestic product (PIB); much more than agriculture, tourism, services, or fishing.  That is why we understand that in this moment, it is relevant to initiate action to push the economic development in the region”.

Meanwhile, counselor Lombardo Toledo indicated that the political vote of the CORE, not only supported Dominga, but “all those Projects that do not hurt the environment.  But the important thing is that we saw the social and economic scope that any Project of this magnitude could have on the weak economy and life of the region, more so when the community of La Higuera had given consent to the initiative.  In my case, I interpreted what people always request, when you are in contact with them on a daily basis”.  On the other hand, counselor Cristián Rondanelli indicated that “today is the moment to bring investment to the region and not to postpone it.  Historically, mining has been a fundamental foundation in the economic development of the region, which has generated, among other things, an important social mobility”.

The decision of the CORE regarding Dominga marks an important precedent with regards to the political vision of the Regional Government over the installation of the mining company.  Nevertheless, sources inside the council indicate that this vote is not binding with the approval of the project nor the judicial situation in which the project is currently at the Environmental Tribunal of Antofagasta.  It should be remembered that in September 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the Environmental Tribunal of Antofagasta to resolve the merits of the rejection on behalf of the Committee of Ministers, and if the initiative complies with the legality of the environmental viewpoint. With an investment of 2.5 million dollars the initiative considers the site installation, a port, and a desalination plant.

Consistent support

It should be noted that the political vote in favor of Dominga on behalf of the CORE, occurs in less than a week of the publication in this newspaper of the citizen survey conducted by Cadem in conjunction with the Catholic University of the North and the El Día newspaper, which concluded that 76% of those surveyed in La Higuera express their support to the mining installations.  Said poll showed that 33% of those surveyed considers mining as the most relevant sector for the region and 66% believe it is necessary to support new projects in this area.

Text of the agreement

“Before the devastating social and economic effects caused by the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, which affects thousands of families daily, especially those more vulnerable, the members of this regional council, in accordance with its regulatory framework, which aims at social, cultural and economic regional development, declare their willingness to support all investment leading to reactivation of the economy of the country and the region.  Although regional economical growth is based largely on tourism; fishing; services; agriculture and commerce, it is also true that mining is and has historically been one of the essential pillars of the local development.  Accordingly, we express our clear and determined support for all current and future sustainable mining investments, present and future in our region, including the project of Dominga Mining Company, which is part of the strategic regional plan; based on the Intercommunity Regulatory Plans of Elqui and Limarí in force today; it anticipates a positive impact, not only in the mining area, but in the entire productive sector and has -according to all opinion polls- broad citizen support, especially in the community of La Higuera, whose inhabitants for years have even had to deal with extreme poverty.  Likewise, we value the company´s commitment to build a single port in the area as a measure of sustainability and protection of the environment.  It is hereby established that this productive plan needs to be environmentally sustainable; must respect the current legal regulations and must privilege in all its stages of eventual execution, the development of the people and the community involved”.

Source: El Día newspaper–

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