In the session on Thursday, July 25, 2019, the presentations proposed by the Mining and Energy Commission were made, prior to the indications that may be made to the project, whose period ends on Sunday, August 11. The President of the National Mining Society (SONAMI), Diego Hernández and the Executive President of the Mining Council, Joaquín Villarino, were especially invited to the session.
The committee discusses the current glacier bill, which emphasizes ambiguities and broad definitions regarding the periglacial and permafrost environment, if passed in these terms, it would leave aside various productive mountain range activities.
The president of SONAMI, in his presentation, makes a similar to the Argentine Glacier Law, in which the Trans-Andean Law presents inconsistencies in certain definitions. On the other hand, he affirms that national mining has demonstrated that there is sustainable mining and it is possible to protect glaciers and develop this activity, stressing that the greatest contribution that Chile can make to mitigating the effects of Climate Change is to produce copper in together with other minerals. D. Hernández concludes saying: “if you choose to have a Glacier Law, we recommend that it be limited to glaciers and the terms periglacial and permafrost not be included, they are ambiguous and generic concepts”.
Guest Joaquín Villarino says that defining the glacier protection area by law can lead to a basic error, which must be defined case by case through technical studies. It also stresses that the definitions given by the current draft Glaciers Law do not comply with International standards, therefore, environmental assets must be protected, for example, with high impacts on biodiversity, impact on scenic beauty or impacts on contribution water, and not making general protections as it is written in the current bill, since it may be detrimental to any activity.
Regarding the discussion, it is stated that glaciers are already protected by certain tools, these are the National System of State Protected Wild Areas (SNASPE), which concentrates 83.5% of the glaciers in Chile and the remaining percentage it is protected by the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA), among other protection instruments that the Ministry of the Environment has.
Finally, in the commission there is a real interest in protecting glaciers and it is emphasized that mining activity is not against the protection of glaciers, but that if the current bill were to be approved, the economic development of the country would be affected.