“This Undersecretariat suggests an environmentally unfavorable classification of the Dominga project”, “it is clear that it does not comply with current environmental legislation”, “during the entire process, the definition of the area of influence was not adequate, discarding any pre-existing scientific bases” , are some of the conclusions reached by the various public services that have sent their reports to the Committee of Ministers, the body that must vote on the future of the mining port project of the Andes Iron company.
The reports, published on the web, will form part of the background that the ministers of the Environment, Agriculture, Economy, Energy, Mines and Health will have to have in view when the vote takes place, the date of which is not been fixed yet. fixed.
The report of the Undersecretariat for the Environment states that the company has not considered, within its area of influence, the areas used by emblematic species of the archipelago, such as the Humboldt penguin, the yunco duck and the chungungo, for which reason “it is not possible to exclude that the project would generate significant impacts on the ecosystem”. Furthermore, it warns of insufficient basic information, especially regarding cetaceans, concluding that the mitigation, compensation and remedial measures for the protected marine fauna affected by the project are not sufficient.
Conaf, for its part, reiterated its criticisms of the company for not having adequately defined the project’s area of influence, without taking into account scientific evidence, and for not having carried out a baseline survey on the protected species of the Penguin Humboldt National Reserve. .
“Science has been adamant in demonstrating that the entire archipelago bay into which the harbor is projected is a key feeding, roosting and breeding site for the bird species that nest in the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve and in the other islands of the archipelago. de Humboldt,” said the service, which also safeguards and manages the aforementioned Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. It also warns about the impacts of underwater noise and light pollution. The latter could lead to the near-term extinction of the yunco, a seabird that uses this area to breed.
From the Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca) they indicated that the information provided by the company “were not sufficient or adequate” to take into account the impacts that the project would have generated on the species of low mobility intertidal and subtidal communities, which it is particularly sensitive for coastal communities that depend on these natural resources. Likewise, the agency shows that, after the environmental assessment, the company has proposed some measures to mitigate the impacts of the desalination plant, which could not be assessed by Subpesca, especially in relation to the benthic resource management areas , crucial for artisanal fishermen in the area.
For its part, the Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) questioned several aspects of the project, first of all the limited area of influence established by the company and not having evaluated the synergistic and cumulative effect with the Cruz Grande project and its impact on marine fauna. ; secondly, the poor baseline and the “only two days sampling” carried out in the winter, without there being a technical justification ensuring that “the intensity and timing of the sampling are appropriate”; and finally, the SAG defines the measure to mitigate the impact on wildlife of oil spills as “insufficient”.
The Directorate General of Water (DGA), meanwhile, has criticized the intervention in the Los Choros aquifer, expressing its concern about the serious deficiencies in the information provided by Andes Iron, which would make it impossible to ensure that all significant negative impacts are correctly identified, to the conservation of the aquifers that will be affected by the project. Citizens’ comments revealed great concern about the stability, availability and quality of the waters of the Los Choros aquifer, for the various ecosystem services it provides. Among these, the irrigation of the valley and its use for small peasant agriculture.
From the Healthcare portfolio, they expressed reservations regarding the assessment of the impacts associated with the particulate matter and gases that would be generated by the works and activities of the initiative. According to the company, the emissions into the atmosphere from Dominga would not cause significant changes in air quality, but the Undersecretary of Health warns that the standard used in the environmental assessment of the project, in 2013, is no longer valid and has been replaced with one more challenging, dating back to 2021.
The reports already published are available to the ministers and ministers, only the pronouncement of the Energy portfolio is missing.
It should be remembered that the Dominga port mining project was rejected in 2017, both at the regional level and by the Committee of Ministers, during the government of President Michelle Bachelet, but the company has decided to continue the case. Since then, and after two appeals to the Environmental Court and to the Cassation, the latter has referred the decision to the Committee of Ministers, which will have to vote shortly if it confirms the rejection.