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Argentina: Chubut considers a referendum (from IKN389)

Here's one small section of this week's edition of The IKN Weekly, IKN389, out last Sunday:

Argentina: Chubut considers a referendum

It started with the head of the Chubut provincial cabinet of regional ministers, one Victor Cisterna, saying that the Chubut government was considering holding a referendum on mining activity in the province. It only took a day before English language headlines were confidently proclaiming “Chubut To Vote On Open Pit Mining” (15) and the whole message of “hey look, even Chubut is going to allow mining soon” was in the air, promoted by “Them What Know Stuff” wearing suits in Toronto and Vancouver.

These people are very stupid (about Argentina). Things to consider:

1)      Whether the referendum will happen at all. After all, Chubut’s government promised one for September 2015, that got neatly forgotten.

2)      When any referendum would happen. If they decide to call such a vote, the obvious date would be at the same time as the regional mid-term elections of late 2017 (in fact that date was mentioned by Señor Cisterna as the possible frame).

3)      Whether it would be a binding vote. It’s one thing to have a referendum, quite another to act on its results. And for me, even if the vote goes ahead and Yes wins this is a classic looking “bicycle” situation (as they say in Argentina), where the slang verb bicicletear is used to denote indefinite delaying tactics, kicking can down the road etc.

4)      What the result would be. As the Chubut constitution clearly states that there can only be one law for the whole province on any given matter, the people most interested in the Yes result, those in the Central Meseta region close to Pan American Silver’s ( (PAAS) Navidad project, will have to convince those in the very anti-mining West Cordillera region and the ambivalent and higher populated East Atlantic coastal region that mining’s a good thing. And the central population is very sparse.

5)      Why governor Mario Das Neves would call such a vote. He’s known as anti-mining, he’s also under pressure from the national government to show willing for the national cause. This could be a situation in which he won’t call a referendum unless he feels confident the result will be a No.

People on the outside looking in seem to be convinced that news of a referendum, even a possible referendum, in Chubut is a positive development for the mining industry of Argentina and for the Navidad project (even Yamana’s Suyai at a pinch). They’re wrong. This is just another layer of bullshit being added to the pile. Forget Chubut as a mining destination, just like PAAS should have done before buying their white elephant.