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Rio2 (RIO.v) and the local fauna

This link is the place to find the Chile environmental agency (the SEA) report that last night recommended the rejection of the Fenix gold project, owned by Rio2 Ltd (RIO.v). Scroll down to the bottom and download your version of the 386 page PDF in dense Spanish. For fun.

For the issues which caused the SEA to reject the EIA application, you need to get to section 6.2.2. and as an example, this screenshot…

…which explains what the SEA considers is lacking. Specifically, SEA believes more studies are needed to assess the impact of the project on three types of fauna, namely the Vizcacha (Linnean name chinchilla chinchilla), a small rabbit-like rodent with a long tail, then Guanucos and Vicuñas (two types of wild camelid related to the llama). We will use as our example the vizcacha population, which is an endangered species in Chile. In its studies, Rio2’s environmental study laid 17 camera traps around the project to see if there was a population for several weeks and as it turned out, of all the cameras around the project, its camera trap number 13 to the West of Fenix was the only to pick up evidence of vizcachas. The other 16 showed nothing.

The SEA then asked the company for further studies in the camera 13 location zone, so RIO.v laid a further 20 camera traps around the central location of camera 13 (a 450m2 area, roughly that red box) for an extra period of 14 nights, in which they reported sightings of a total of 19 vizcacha, then handed in its observations and conclusions. However, the SEA has decided that 1) 14 days wasn’t enough time for the second part of the study and 2) instead of using camera 13 as the central point and dotting the camera traps around the way they did, RIO.v should also have located cameras to the East of camera 13, specifically in the locations they marked by the arrows in the above map (found on page 116 of the report), which according to SEA are likely or possible habitat zones for vizcachas (e.g. rocky outcrops, small protective gulleys, etc). As a result, SEA has decided RIO.v should have made studies in the area between camera 13 and the project boundary (in blue, to the right of the above map) and according to SEA, the company cannot say whether the local vizcacha population will be affected in the negligible way it claims.

Regarding the vizcacha population, the SEA concludes the following on pages 117 and 118 (in which I translate the sections that the SEA published in bold type for emphasis):

“…a campaign of 14 nights is considered insufficient to determine the existent populaton in the sector, given that it is based on registries of sightings of examples via the use of 20 camera traps, does not correspond to a thorough population study of the species.”

“(the company) has not delivered information regarding the quantity of existent refuges or analysis of the available vegetation, it has only effected a description.”

“…this service considers that a population study is required in order to evaluate the true impact that this project may generate on the existing population (of vizchachas) in the stated area…”

The same type of arguments also go for the guanuco and vicuña populations, though they are migratory animals in this specific zone and spend most of their time in the wetlands and salt flats, located further down the hill.

3 Comments

    These rodents chewed a massive hole in my portfolio today!

    Reply

    So ultimately you feel this is a solvable issue and not a political event which there is no coming back from??

    Reply

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