Lawyers representing the Indigenous Diaguita announced an initial agreement with mining giant Barrick Gold on Wednesday. Negotiations stalled in 2013 after the Canadian company invested $5 million in the Pascua-Lama mining project in the southern Atacama Desert.
The Diaguita had opposed the gold and copper mine located on the border of Chile and Argentina on the grounds that they were not properly consulted through the consulta previa process established by International Labour Organization Convention 169 (ILO 169) and codified into Chilean national law in 2009.
The initial agreement, which will be valid for six months, is the first in a series of steps that must be taken under ILO 169 before Barrick Gold can move forward. If the Diaguita community approves of Barrick’s project proposal, the two parties will enter the dialogue phase, which can last up to two years.
Despite the initial agreement, the Pascua-Lama project is officially on hold until water management infrastructure to prevent water pollution is constructed and the dialogue phase under ILO 169 is complete.