International coalition supports El Salvador in battle against Canadian mining company

Some 300 groups urge World Bank to reject lawsuit that would devastate nation’s water

WASHINGTON – More than 300 civil society organizations with millions of members are supporting El Salvador in its legal battle with Canadian mining company Pacific Rim at the World Bank. Labor, environmental and grassroots groups from Canada, the U.S. and El Salvador will submit a letter to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on April 10 demanding a review of the lawsuit against El Salvador. 

Pacific Rim is demanding $301 million in compensation from El Salvador unless the government reconsiders its ban on mining. Pacific Rim sued El Salvador after a 2009 announcement by the Salvadoran government that it would not issue metal mining permits due to the risk it poses to the safety of water supplies. According to the World Bank, 90 percent of the surface water is heavily contaminated and 20 percent of its rural population lacks safe drinking water. Pacific Rim is using the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Disputes (ICSID) to challenge the moratorium on mining.  

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OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD BANK IN DEFENSE OF EL SALVADOR

Dr. Jim Yong Kim President, World Bank

The signers of this petition are XXX international and national civil society organizations. We are writing out of solidarity with the communities of El Salvador that have been working through the democratic process to prevent a proposed cyanide-leach gold mining project, over well- founded risks that it will poison the local communities’ environment as well as the country’s most important river and source of water.

Rather than complying with the environmental permitting process of El Salvador, the Canadian company Pacific Rim launched an attack under the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). While that approach was rejected for lack of jurisdiction, Pacific Rim was still allowed to continue the arbitration based on an outdated investment law that has since been amended by the Salvadoran General Assembly. On that basis, the case remains before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Pacific Rim is demanding $301 million US dollars in compensation from the government of El Salvador or to provide it with an operating permit in spite of the huge risks to the country’s water supply.

Pacific Rim is using ICSID to subvert a democratic nationwide debate over mining and environmental health in El Salvador. When it comes to such issues, local democratic institutions should prevail, not foreign corporations seeking to exploit natural resources.

These matters should not be decided by the World Banks’ investor state arbitration tribunal or any other foreign tribunal. To make things worse, in the course of Pacific Rim’s intervention in the political affairs of El Salvador, four anti-mining activists have been murdered in the project area.

We urge you to review the role of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and to determine if it supports the Bank’s mission of ending poverty and promoting responsible and sustainable economic development.

We urge you to undertake this review through an open process with public hearings and the ability for mining affected communities and their allies to present evidence of the harm done by corporations using the investor - state arbitration process to undermine the public interest laws and regulatory structures in countries of the Global South.

We stand with the people of El Salvador in their demand that their domestic governance processes and national sovereignty be respected. The Pacific Rim ICSID arbitration is a direct assault against democratic governance.  We stand on the side of democracy.

Sincerely,

 

CC

Meg Kinnear, Secretary-General,ICSID

V.V. Veeder, Tribunal President

Brigitte Stern, Tribunal Member

Guido Santiago Tawil, Tribunal Member

Central American anti-mining activists form coalition in Nicaragua

Translated from: http://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/nacionales/304281-opositores-a-mineria-centroamerica-formar-coalicion-nicaragua

Acan-Efe News

Photo: Humbold Centre, Nicaragua. Honduras delegation. Three dozen non-governmental organizations that oppose mining met today in Managua to form a coalition to unify efforts against such projects.

"It's a need to articulate our struggles, because mining provides a worrying trend for Central America, in some cases as in Guatemala, the government has declared a state of siege due anti-mining protests, in Honduras people have suffered threats, imprisonment and even deaths, in Nicaragua this year there were over 40 detained for protesting," said to Acan-Efe the deputy director of the Humboldt Center, Victor Campos.

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The Real Cost of Gold in the Philippines

We think of gold as a sign of prosperity, but the farmers and communities most affected by mining just want their rivers and land back.

by John Cavanagh, Robin Broad

First published in: http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/john-cavanagh-and-robin-broad/the-real-cost-of-gold-in-the-philippines

"To you readers, and especially those who think of gold as something of value, we invite you into the room. Some of you have followed us in our journeys to gold-mining country in El Salvador where OceanaGold has joined forces with Canadian company Pacific Rim. We invite you to ponder OcenaGold's claim: prosperity for whom?

Listen to the weary and distraught mother as she tells us that her family lives so close to the enormous conveyor belt that carries rock to be crushed that she and her four school-age children cannot study or sleep. They hear the loud droning noise 24 hours a day. When the mining company blasts rock, it feels like an earthquake. But it is her house and her land, and what is she to do?" (READ MORE)

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