Some uplifting news is spreading from Chile, as the nation’s government has officially scuttled plans for an iron mine that would jeopardize local penguins.

France 24 reported on Monday that Chile’s government has denied a $2.5 billion permit for the company Andes Iron to mine millions of tons of Iron from the Coquimbo region in the Northern part of Chile. Environmental Minister Marcelo Mena said that the company failed to outline how it would adequately protect the Humboldt Penguin, which is an endangered species of the bird that also inhabits the area. The decision is particularly significant, as mining accounts for approximately 15 percent of Chile’s national GDP.

“The compensation measures were insufficient and could not guarantee the protection of species of concern,” Mena said in a public statement. “We are not against economic development or projects that are necessary for the country’s growth, but they must offer adequate solutions for the impact they will have.”

The Chilean Government’s National Forestry Corporation also acknowledged the historic decision in a tweet, saying “the species that live in the National Reserve thank those who struggle for its conservation.” Mena retweeted the post on his verified account.

The decision is a far cry from where the Chilean government previously stood on the mining industry and its impact on the environment just four years ago. In 2013, indigenous activists confronted the Chilean government for allowing mining companies to put such a burden on the nation’s water supply and endangering water reservoirs depended on by native communities.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet campaigned on re-evaluating the nation’s Water Code, which was initially put in place under Augusto Pinochet’s military government, prioritizing water use for private businesses rather than citizens. Currently, the Chilean Senate is debating a bill sent to the chamber by the House which would prioritize the nation’s water for human consumption.

 

Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based writer and commentator specializing in national and state government issues for Grit Post. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.

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