The Metamorphosis of the Margajita River in the Dominican Republic

Nov 22, 2013 9:45 AM ET
The Margajita River used to flow dark red due to acidic water discharged by the previous operator of the Pueblo Viejo mine. Barrick’s water treatment plant has led to dramatic improvements in the river, decreasing acidity levels, increasing water flow and returning the water to its natural color.

Barrick Beyond Borders

Before draining into the Hatillo Reservoir, the Margajita River flows under a small bridge that takes cars and pedestrians into the village of Hatillo. On a sweltering summer day in this sleepy village in the Dominican Republic, a boy and his father stand fishing near the bridge patiently waiting for some tilapia to be enticed by their bait. Another angler, many years their senior, is packing up for the day, his bucket filled with tilapia. Cristian De Jesus has fished in the area his entire life, but only recently returned to this spot after spurning it for more than 12 years.   “If the water here was still acidic,” he says, “the fish wouldn’t have returned.”   The Margajita River is about six kilometers long, skirting the Pueblo Viejo mine before winding its way into the Hatillo Reservoir, the largest fresh-water body in the Dominican Republic. As far back as most people here can remember, the waters of the Margajita River were colored a dark, ominous red – a product of acid rock drainage (ARD).   “It used to be called the ‘blood river,’” says Carlos Tamayo, Environmental Manager at the Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation (PVDC), a joint venture between Barrick (60 percent) and Goldcorp (40 percent) that owns the Pueblo Viejo mine.   Continue reading this story at