Canadian Mining Company Halts Project in Patagonia

Few places in the world are more synonymous with remote, rugged, and untouched natural splendor than Patagonia, so it was with relief that environmentalists learned that they had triumphed over a proposed mining project in southernmost South America — at least for the moment. For more than a decade, the Canadian mining company Noranda has sought to build an aluminum smelter and three hydroelectric plants in the Aysen region of Chilean Patagonia, despite strong opposition from enviros, salmon farmers, politicians, residents, and even the president of Chile, Ricardo Lagos. Lagos’ opposition was especially significant, given that the $3 billion project would have been the largest foreign investment ever in Chile. Still, enviros say they can’t rest on their laurels; the company has halted its plans, not scrapped them, and is looking for another site for the project, possibly elsewhere in Patagonia, which offers abundant hydroelectric resources.