Home » Chilean MP, NGOs Fight to Stop Nutrex SpA Project in Juncal Park

Chilean MP, NGOs Fight to Stop Nutrex SpA Project in Juncal Park

Legal Battle Against Nutrex's Copper Exploration Intensifies in Chile

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Chilean MP María Francisca Bello, in collaboration with a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the Aconcagua Valley, has taken legal action to stop the exploration activities of Nutrex SpA in the Juncal Andean Park. The coalition, which includes groups like Sustainable Aconcagua, Corporation for the Preservation and Rehabilitation of Andean Fauna, Santa María Assembly for the Environment and Heritage, and Wanaku Akunkawa, filed an appeal for protection with the Valparaíso Court of Appeals. They are concerned about the potential environmental damage and disruption to local communities caused by Nutrex SpA’s activities.

Nutrex SpA is a US-based company that explores gold and copper. They were given until April 16, 2024, to establish operational infrastructure at the Juncal site. However, they faced significant opposition from environmental activists that prevented them from meeting their initial setup deadline. Nutrex requested an extension from Chilean authorities to submit the necessary documentation and continue their project, a move that has now been challenged by the recent appeal.

The main aim of the appeal is not only to prevent the immediate threat of exploration but also to force Nutrex to potentially restart the application process. This could cause a delay of up to a year, giving activists and community advocates more time to strengthen their case against the project and further mobilize public and legal support.

María Francisca Bello, a Member of Parliament, highlighted the broader implications of the project and expressed concerns beyond just the environmental impact on the park’s biodiversity. “We have gained some time, but we also know that their ability to enter the park poses a threat not only to biodiversity and a particular park but to a fundamental issue that is water in our region,” Bello explained to local media outlets.

The Juncal Andean Park is a crucial watershed area and a vital source of freshwater for the Aconcagua Valley. As a result, the stakes of the Nutrex exploration project are high.

The park covers an area of over 13,700 hectares and boasts a diverse range of habitats, from 2,200 to over 5,000 meters above sea level. It has been under the protection of the Kenrick family since 1911 and contains the Juncal Glacier, several estuaries, wetlands, and habitats for a wide variety of native and endemic species. The park also plays a crucial role in the region’s hydrology, including the origins of the Juncal River, a key tributary to the Aconcagua River.

According to Chilean law, the Kenrick family owns the surface rights to the land but not the sub-surface mineral rights. This legal framework allows companies like Nutrex to apply for exploration permits even in privately owned conservation areas. This aspect of Chilean resource law highlights the complex relationship between environmental protection, community rights, and mineral exploration interests.

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