News

Cross border mining will be the next phase of the anti-mining struggle in El Salvador

Gloria Silvia Orellana - Diario CoLatino

"My mother was the daughter of miners and when I told her everything that happened here (in El Salvador) she told me that when her father finished working (in a mining project) the area was left deserted and the damaged, and the impacts are similar in any country of the world" said Teresa Garcia, a religious of the Assumption, who has worked for 31 years with the community in San José Las Flores, Chalatenango.

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Sanches Ceren will prevent mining in the Trifinio región.

Due the risk of contaminating key bodies of water shared by the three countries

Translated from:  http://elecciones2014.elsalvador.com/articulo/sanchez-ceren-evitara-mineria-trifinio-976

Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren was emphatic in his statement that he will advocate for the suspension of all mining activity in the Trifinio Reserve area, alluding to the Cerro Blanco mining project located in Asuncion Mita, Guatemala , 18 kilometers away from Metapan.

A technical report carried out by Salvadoran authorities, after a visit to the mine, stated that the project has many shortcomings that could cause negative impacts on nearby bodies of water where toxic discharge will occur, contamination of the Ostúa river, could travel to the Güija lake and then to the Lempa river.

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Governments of Guatemala and El Salvador forced to respond to community concerns regarding the Cerro Blanco mining project

San Salvador, Feb. 26th, 2013

Over two hundred Members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador, La Mesa, held a rally this morning in front of the Guatemalan Embassy in San Salvador to deliver a letter addressed to Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina to express concerns related to the Cerro Blanco mining project in the border with El Salvador.

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PRESS RELEASE

COMMUNITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS REJECT CERRO BLANCO MINE AND DEMAND THE GOVERNMENT OF GUATEMALA TO ORDERS ITS IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION.

February 26, 2013

Communities and organizations convened under the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador mobilized to the Embassy of Guatemala in El Salvador today to express our opposition to the Cerro Blanco mine. The Cerro Blanco operation, a project of Entremares SA, a subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc, will have a negative impact on the quality of life of the Salvadoran population.

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Government of El Salvador asked once again to take leadership in banning metallic mining

San Salvador, February 4th, 2012

The NationalRoundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador(La Mesa) reiterated in a press conference this morning its petition for the Salvadoran Government to introduce legislation to place a definite ban to metallic mining in the country. 

The call was made as a response to a recent report released by the El Salvador’s Human Rights Ombudsman that highlights the potential violations to the human rights of Salvadorans by cross border contamination stemming from the Cerro Blanco project located in Guatemala, and recent legislation in the neighboring country of Honduras that opens the gate to a flood of mining projects located in the border with El Salvador.    

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Guatemalan Mine Threatens the Lempa River

Guatemalan Mine Threatens the Lempa River

The Lempa River is the main source of surface water in El Salvador and provides drinking water for over 60% of the entire population, including the city of San Salvador.  Recently, the Guatemalan government approved the permits for the Cerro Blanco mine: a mine is located a short 14 km from the main source of the Lempa, the Guija Lake.  The Guija Lake is a natural border between Guatemala and El Salvador and part of 1,500 km of protected UN Biosphere Reserve that encompassed parts of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The Guija Lake is not only the major water source for the Lempa River, but also an important source of income for at least 11 communities of subsistence fishermen that live on the El Salvador side of the lake.  Some experts estimate that thousands of Salvadorans the main source of income for would be affected if the lake is contaminated.

This situation led the Salvadoran Vice President, Salvador Sanchez Cerén, to criticize the Guatemalan government in July saying “this cannot be polluted, it’s a region where we are three countries, its protection is fundamental.”  Guatemalan President Otto Perez responded to the statement by claiming there has not been any contamination in the area because there are no active mines.  What he did not mention was that the construction stage of the Cerro Blanco mine is underway and as part of that process the mining company is pumping and disposing of geothermal water found at the mining site, which could have a damaging effect on the environment if the water is not processed correctly.

Entre Mares, a subsidiary of the Canadian gold mining giant Gold Corp., owns the Cerro Blanco mine.  Gold Corp has been strongly criticized throughout Latin America for the environmental destruction, health problems and social conflict created by its mines.  

Environmental Impact Study found Inadequate

This month, a review of the mine’s Environmental Impact Study, done by mining and environmental engineer Robert Robinson, found an alarming number of potentially dangerous problems with the  proposed mine.  One of the main conclusions of Robinson’s review was:  “The presence of very toxic arsenic in the soil, rock, surface water, and groundwater. Mining will likely increase the toxic concentrations of arsenic.” 

His review also outlines the inadequacies in the Environmental Impact Study including lack of information, lack of planning and structures to mitigate potential environmental effects, as well as inadequate planning for contaminated water treatment.  Robinson criticizes that the study “may seriously understate the possible risks of acid-generating rock,” which is the main source of pollution in the San Sebastian mining in El Salvador, as well as the time it will require to close the mine.  He finishes by pointing out that after taxes, royalties and investment Gold Corp will take 74% of the profits of the Cerro Blanco mine out of the country. 

Robinson very clearly states that “given the toxic arsenic (plus other toxic metals) and the inadequate EIA, the proposed Cerro Blanco mine should not be granted an exploitation license” and that “the high arsenic risks and inadequate EIA seem little incentive to approve a mine that leaves little economic gain for Guatemala.“

For more details see the complete English version of Robinson’s review (or the Spanish version).

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