How Local, Grassroots Organizing Drove El Salvador’s Mining Ban

* Yevgeniya Yatsenko and Sebastian Rosemont : Foreign Policy in Focus

U.S. environmentalists take note: El Salvador's activists proved that a national consensus on environmentalism can be forged one town at a time.

Amid a natural gas boom, could U.S. activists ever dream of a national ban on fracking? If it seems impossible, they should look to the south for inspiration.

On March 29, the small Central American nation of El Salvador passed a total ban on metal mining. The historic vote on the law was unanimous, bridging strong partisan divides, and was the culmination of more than a decade of activism, coalition building, and direct political participation by the people of El Salvador.

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Historic Wins for Democracy and Rights in El Salvador

Robin Broad and John Cavanagh : Ethics and International Affairs


Recently there have been two giant wins for democracy, human rights, and the environment in an unlikely spot: the small, embattled nation of El Salvador.

The most recent win was in March 2017, when the national legislature voted overwhelmingly to make El Salvador the first nation on earth to ban all metals mining, an activity that threatened that nation’s water supply. Who could have imagined an editorial in the New York Times entitled “El Salvador’s Historic Mining Ban” on April 2, 2017?1 The other win occurred six months earlier, in October 2016: After a seven-year battle, a World Bank Group-affiliated arbitration tribunal ruled unanimously against a global mining firm that sued El Salvador for not granting it a mining license.2 Global corporations have been winning most of the lawsuits in these so-called “investor-state” tribunals, but here again El Salvador prevailed.

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El Salvador – When The Seeds Of Resistance Bloom

Thomas Mc Donagh and Aldo Orellana López : The Democracy Center

On 29th March 2017 legislators in El Salvador approved a blanket ban on all metal mining activities in the country – the first country in the world to do so. The historic vote came just six months after a World Bank tribunal ruled in favour of the country’s government in an international investment arbitration case brought by a Canadian mining corporation.

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PRESS RELEASE: OceanaGold, “the gold mining company of choice”? Not in El Salvador or the Philippines

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June 23, 2017

(Ottawa/Washington, D.C./Melbourne) Reviewing OceanaGold reports issued in the lead up to its June 23 annual general shareholders meeting in Toronto, it is difficult to tell that the company was at the centre of international controversy over two of its mine projects in 2016 and early 2017. Ignoring significant problems in El Salvador and the Philippines, however, will not address the reputational risk that the company continues to face.

In October 2016, a World Bank tribunal found against OceanaGold in a seven-year, multimillion-dollar suit against El Salvador. The ruling found that the company had not met legal requirements to obtain a mine permit and ordered it to pay the Central American country US$8 million in legal costs. When the company had still not paid up by late March, the tribunal ordered the company to pay interest on its debt. Nonetheless, the debt remains outstanding.

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El Salvador becomes first country to ban metals mining

Sandra Cuffe: Mongabay 

Legislators in El Salvador made history Wednesday, passing a bill to ban all metallic mining activities in the country.

The results of the much-anticipated vote were unanimous: 69 in favor, none against, and no abstentions. Fifteen of the country’s 84 lawmakers did not show up for the vote.

The result “makes tiny El Salvador the unlikely hero in a global movement to put the brakes on a modern day ‘gold rush’,” MiningWatch Canada wrote in a statement Thursday. The Central American nation is the first country in the world to ban mining for gold and other metals, according to the industry watchdog group.

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El Salvador Passes Historic Law To Ban Metal Mining

Sebastian Rosemont: Huffinton Post

The vote marked the culmination of a decade of pressure from activists, environmentalists and the Catholic church.

In an historic vote, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to ban metal mining. On Wednesday, March 29, the Legislative Assembly voted unanimously to approve the Law to Ban Metal Mining, which prohibits all mining activities from exploration to extraction to processing.

Despite last minute lobbying by one of the country’s largest mining interests, all 70 present members of the assembly voted in favor of the ban. It now heads to President Salvador Sánchez Cerén’s desk who has said he will sign it.

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