Financial Post | Business

Pascua-Lama, on the border of Chile and Argentina — Standing on a precipice 5,200 metres above sea level, the air is thin and the vistas are long.

Just breathing is difficult at this altitude, with a howling wind disturbing the utter, majestic silence of the snow-capped Andes mountains, threatening to blow you over the edge.

You’d think you were alone at the top of the world.

But what happens up here in Pascua-Lama, where Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold is developing the first open-pit gold mine to straddle two countries, will have a huge impact on the people living in the valleys below on both sides of the border — for better or for worse.

After more than a decade of intense debate — often played out in front of the Canadian embassies in Santiago and Buenos Aires — the mine is set to open in 2014, and to produce…

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