Community of San Sebastian still endures Commerce Group’s legacy of contamination.

By Sebastian Rosemont - Photo by: Genia Yatsenko

Little has changed in the community since Commerce Group Corporation (CGC) abandoned mining operations in  El Salvador in 2006 after its mining permits were revoked. Despite losing the permits for failing to meet environmental standards, CGC sued the Government of El Salvador to continue mining in the region. CGC lost its legal disputes against the government with the final ruling handed down in 2013. 


Recently, the Attorney for the Environment from the Office of the Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH) visited the community of San Sebastian in the Department of La Union. The visit was a follow up to the PDDH’s 2016 Special Report in which they laid out binding recommendations for the company and government institutions responsible for remediating the   contamination in San Sebastian. Key recommendations were related to cleaning up the contaminated river, providing community health and access to potable water, testing for health impacts on the local population and providing economic alternatives to artisanal mining.

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OceanaGold (Pacific Rim) plans to sue the State; organizations demand mining ban

Radio Mundo Real

While OceanaGold, one of the largest mining companies in El Salvador, delays compliance with its obligation to compensate El Salvador, several social forces are demanding a metal mining ban.

OceanaGold company, which in 2013 acquired Pacific Rim, has until February 14 to determine if it will pay the compensation amounting to 8 million dollars to El Salvador as ordered by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank body last October.

The ICSID gave 120 days to review its ruling, which were taken by OceanaGold to decide whether they will comply with the arbitration award or they will submit a plea of nullity. El Salvador won the lawsuit against Pacific Rim / OceanaGold, which had been filed in 2009 by the company to request the State the payment of approximately 250 million dollars as compensation for not letting it exploit El Dorado mine in San Isidro, Cabañas.

In 2002, the company had started exploration works in the mine after acquiring permits, but it was never authorized to exploit it. El Salvador is Central America´s smallest country and also one of the countries with the highest levels of environmental deterioration. READ MORE

El Salvador Church Leaders Fight for Ban on Mining Exploitation


An earlier proposal to block all metals mining in El Salvador has stagnated for years in Congress without being discussed.

The movement against destructive mining activity in El Salvador received a boost Monday as leaders of the Catholic church in the Central American country presented a bill in Congress aimed at blocking mining and protecting citizens from “serious contamination.”

“The objective of the bill is to protect our country and its population from serious environmental contamination, especially of water, an inevitable consequence of open pit mining exploitation,” the archbishop of San Salvador, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, said in a press conference Sunday.

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Letter Submitted to the Legislature to Demand the Return of the Proposed Law Banning Mining

*Karen Rivas: Pax Noticias

“We have presented bill proposals since 2006 focused on the the ban of metal mining,” stated a representative of the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Mineria (National Roundtable Against Mining, La Mesa).

Members of the National Roundtable Against Mining met with the Legislative Assembly to present a letter demanding the return to the study and adoption of the bill that bans metal mining operations in the country.

The organized community groups that work in favor of human, environmental, religious, and youth rights that make up La Mesa were present at the Legislative Assembly.

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FMLN Will Vote for the Ban on the Mining Industry in the Country

* Gloria Silvia Orellana: CoLatino 

“Efforts to have a legislative decree that prohibits mining operations and all of its forms have sprung since the year 2006. As a political party we can say that there are already 31 votes in order to comply with this demand from the population, social organizations, and the Catholic Church,” said FMLN legislator Guillermo Mata during the presentation of an official letter(requesting prohibition) in the Legislative Assembly.

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Communities Call on Local Representatives to Approve Anti-Mining Regulation

* Teresa Alvarado: Transparencia Activa

The inhabitants of Cinquera also asked the city council to call a popular vote so that the citizens of the town can decide through a vote if they are in favor of, or against, mining operations.

Inhabitants of the municipality of Cinquera, in the Department of Cabañas, called on the Representatives of the Legislative Assembly to take up the discussion of the bill that bans metal mining in the country.

In 2009 civil society organizations and communities presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly against mining, but up until now there have been no advances in the discussion.

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