Protesters block access, take over Vale's Río Colorado project

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Protesters have blocked access and taken over Brazilian mining giant Vale's (NYSE: VALE) Río Colorado potash project in Argentina's Mendoza province, close to the border with Neuquén province, local press reported.

The move came on the heels of a demonstration early Monday (Oct 1) at the municipal building in Malargüe, Mendoza, where locals arrived to demand that the company fulfill promises to provide work opportunities to community members, according to the reports.

Individuals from Neuquén's Rincón de los Sauces, the closest city to Río Colorado, also blocked access to the site to call for works to begin on the project's associated railway, which is also supposed to provide jobs.

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Vale was not available for comment when contacted by BNamericas.

The company is investing 29.5bn pesos (US$6.28bn) to develop Río Colorado, which includes mine construction, the railway, a power plant and a port.

Construction is expected to begin in December this year and Río Colorado should be fully operational by January 2014. The plant will have initial capacity of 2.4Mt/y, with potential for a future expansion of up to 4.35Mt/y.

Vale, which is the biggest iron ore miner in the world, is planning to become a leading player in the global fertilizer market by 2015.