Argentine government officials are launching a legal investigation against Canadian mining company Barrick Gold after 15,000 liters of cyanide leaked into a local river from its Veladero mine located in the western province of San Juan.
“We want to deploy all investigative measures available in order to determine if a crime did or did not take place,” Provincial Attorney General Guillermo de Sanctis told EFE news agency on Wednesday. “We must get to the bottom of this in order to know what happened and to make sure that it never happens again.”
Meanwhile, Argentina's Chief of Ministers Anibal Fernandez has demanded a rapid response to the spill after local residents from the town of Jachal took to the streets expressing concern that the town's water supply would be impacted by the dangerous chemical.
“An intensive monitoring of water to clear any doubts about contamination is being performed,” said Provincial Mining Minister Felipe Saavedra.
The company denied that there was any contamination to the local area or any risk posed to inhabitants and insisted that the incident had been brought swiftly under control.
“The leak was detected almost immediately and the valve shut down. Production was halted to prevent pumping more of the solution,” a Barrick Gold official told Reuters.
However, despite assurances from the Toronto-based mining company, Barrick Gold was listed as the 12th least ethical company in the world by Swiss Research firm Covalace due to its involvement in several high-profile cases regarding human rights abuses.