In the Huasco Valley in Chile’s Atacama Region, hidden among majestic mountains and sun-baked plains, are the villages of El Corral and Las Breas. For years, the towns have been isolated, not only because of their remote geographic location, but also because of their lack of communications infrastructure and technology.
Located in the district of Alto del Carmen, El Corral and Las Breas are the communities closest to Barrick’s Pascua-Lama project. In mid-June, thanks to a joint effort by the community and Barrick Pascua-Lama, the nearly 150 residents of these towns have telephone service, Internet access and a regional radio signal.
Emilio Galindo of the Alto del Carmen Police and Mia-Nié Chang, superintendent of sustainable mining development at Barrick Pascua-Lama, celebrate the installation of telephone service in Las Bras, Chile, with a resident of the town.
“We are isolated from everything, but now we can communicate, respond to health emergencies, and call an ambulance to transport sick people,” says Nadia Ávalos, President of the Residents’ Committee of El Corral. “The new infrastructure also helps us communicate with sheepherders and notify them when poor weather is approaching.”
The telephone service is based on satellite Internet technology, which also allows residents to go online. The new Internet connectivity, along with radio access provided by the signal station, means the towns can stay better informed about events in the Atacama Region.
“Improvements to communication technology were important to these communities, and are now a reality,” says Mai-Nié Chang, Superintendent of Sustainable Mining Development at Barrick Pascua-Lama. “We are pleased that we could help meet this request.”