MEXICO CITY, Sep 3 (Tierramérica).- Mexican researchers began operating a prototype electrochemical reactor that separates gold and silver from other minerals, without producing toxic residues.
The reactor, which utilizes thiourea, a non-polluting compound, has been running since July at the Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico, in the capital, thanks to an agreement with the private mining firm Servicios Industriales Peñoles.
The invention means toxins like cyanide, long used to precipitate precious metals from ore are no longer needed. "It is a unique alternative and promises a great deal for the future of the mining industry," José Luis Nava, one of its creators, told Tierramérica.
The method will be a boost to profitability of the companies and benefit the communities where the mines are located, as they will no longer have to face mining pollution. It is "completely sustainable," says the researcher.
Lawsuit Against Eucalyptus
PORTO ALEGRE, Sep 3 (Tierramérica).- Seven environmental organizations from the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul are demanding that federal justice authorities only authorize eucalyptus plantations if they comply with environmental impact studies.
Their concern arises from the advance of tree farming in southern Brazil, led by the paper pulp factories Votorantin, Aracruz and Stora Enso.
"We demand that the companies as well as the state and federal governments comply with the environmental legislation for silviculture projects, because the eucalyptus plantations (Eucaliptus camaldulensis) are exempt with softer requirements," Edi Xavier, president of the Gaúcha Association for Environmental Protection, told Tierramérica.
The environmentalists charge that the grand-scale tree farms create enormous threats to the biomes of the southern plains and want to prevent the harm caused by the eucalyptus farming sector in other Brazilian states.
Honduras and Guatemala to Protect Shared Ecosystems
TEGUCIGALPA, Sep 3 (Tierramérica).- The governments of Honduras and Guatemala signed a cooperation agreement on Aug. 27 to protect the natural resources the two countries share along their Caribbean coastlines.
The area of joint protection will be the biological corridor encompassing the Honduran region of Omoa and the Guatemalan wetland of Punta de Manabique. An assessment will be made of the conservation needs in the area and of the coastal communities, Honduran Environment Minister Mayra Mejía told Tierramérica.
Efforts include protection of emblematic species like the manatee (Trichechus manatus), sea turtles (Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), toucan (Ramphastos sp), heron (Ardeidae) and others, she said.
The agreement is part of regional conservation strategies involved in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, said the minister.
Whales in the Schools
BUENOS AIRES, Sep 3 (Tierramérica).- A plan for children to develop "a comprehensive appreciation of whales and their environment" will begin in late September in five schools of the southern Argentine province of Chubut.
Along its Atlantic coast, Chubut has the main birthing zone of an enormous population of the southern right whale (Eubalaena australis).
"The idea is to begin there, because many students in that province, due to distance or socioeconomic conditions, have never seen the ocean or a whale," Roxana Steimberg, of the Institute of Whale Conservation, the promoter of the effort, told Tierramérica.
The program also offers material for primary school teachers and students, and next year will be extended to 20 schools in Chubut and to other provinces. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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