Pan-American silver mine in Argentina back in limbo after mining law repealed

BUENOS AIRES, Dec.20 (Reuters) – A silver mine owned by the Canadian company Pan American Silver (PAAS.TO) in Argentina was back in limbo on Monday after the provincial government repealed a mining law approved last week .

The province of Chubut, in Argentina’s southern Patagonia region, repealed the law after days of violent protests by local communities against the bill. The law would have allowed surface mining in two regions, including where Canadian miner Pan American Silver’s large Navidad project is based.

After the law was passed last week, government buildings in the provincial capital Rawson were set on fire, roadblocks erected and clashes erupted in the streets.

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Navidad has been on hold since 2013 when she broke provincial rules banning the use of cyanide in surface mines. Residents and environmental organizations oppose the exploitation of silver and lead because of the potential for contamination.

“We have decided to repeal the law and promote a plebiscite at the provincial level to listen to all the voices of the people,” Chubut governor Mariano Arcioni wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Pan American Silver did not immediately comment.

Argentina, one of the top 10 silver producers in the world according to the US Geological Survey, is seeking to increase its mining production to bolster its struggling economy.

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Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Agutin Geist; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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