Open-pit metal mining  has been banned in the Argentinian province of Chubut since April 2003.  Law 5001, passed by provincial legislative power following the Esquel referendum,  resulting in the cancellation of Meridian Gold’s proposed gold mine.
Nonetheless, the government has since allowed  companies to explore for, and develop, mineral deposits which would use open-cast processes.
At the end of last year, Pan American Silver took over the Navidad silver-lead project from Aquiline Resources, demonstrating the industry’s confidence that it can overturn the provincial ban. The central government has given strong signs in that direction, by granting hundreds of hectares for exploration.
If the Navidad mine gets underway, it will encourage other companies, such as London-listed Patagonia Gold, which is exploring in the meseta (Central Plateau).
Last month, and by travelling more than 400 Km. to Rawson, Mapuche-Tehuelche communities raised their voices for the first time in the  provincial capital, demanding recognition of their rights and an end to large scale mining.