Tomás Guevara / Washington correspondent : El Diario de Hoy
The conflict between Pacific Rim mining, a subsidiary of the transnational Oceana Gold, could continue as the company not only has delayed payment of the $ 8 million compensation imposed last October 14 by the International Center for Arbitration (ICSID) In Washington, but it has initiated talks with representatives of the Salvadoran government in an attempt to obtain permission to exploit gold and silver in Cabañas.
Luis Parada, head of the defense team for the Salvadoran State, acknowledges that he has heard about these company meetings with some officials of the Sánchez Cerén administration, which would be encouraging OceanaGold's hopes of operating in the country and in consequence encourage the company to continue the legal battle.
Such actions would contradict the commitment President Salvador Sánchez Cerén acquired with the organizations that form the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador (that he would not grant permits for the exploration or extraction of precious metals during his mandate) at a meeting occurred at the Presidential House on August 25.
"Oceana Gold should already be complying with the court's ruling and leaving the country, but it would seem that somebody continues to give the company hope. Otherwise they would have packed up their equipment and left, "Luis Parada says.
Parada's attention is drawn to the fact that when he was in El Salvador, in the week following the verdict, he met with some government officials who did not seem very happy.
But Parada prefers to reminisce the joy and gratitude of the communities of Cabañas who oppose metal mining, who gave him a plaque of recognition.
Another concern is that communications originating in Washington since the week following the ruling between the law firms Foley Hoag, who represented El Salvador in the process, and Crowell & Moring, which litigated on behalf of the mining company, evidences the reluctance of the applicant to comply with the ruling.
According to Parada, OceanaGold is trying to avoid the responsibility of complying with the ruling, and in his judgment, the company remains hopeful that it will obtain the permission to extract the gold and silver from deposits found in Cabañas, hence their interest in reaching out senior officials of the Sánchez Cerén government.
"Today, with an ruling against them given by the tribunal, they want to turn against a mandatory ruling for both parties who committed to respect and comply with the decision arising from litigation," explains Parada, who predicts that given the communications he has had with its counterpart, the mining company would be considering to request the annulment of the case, in the same ICSID court.
Keeping alive the case could take at least two years and increase the costs of the defense of El Salvador, so the defense team of Folley Hoag has asked the court to issue a supplementary decision to the ruling from October 14.
Before the end of the period for requesting amendments to the judgment, El Salvador asked the court to rule on a request that the defense included in its pleadings of the merits phase of arbitration: that in the case that EL Salvador is granted procedural costs, interest should be added to the amount originally established from the date of issuance of the award until it was paid.
Foley Hoag's lawyers believe the court forgot to decide on that request from El Salvador. "This is an important point, because the more OceanaGold delays payment of the $8million dollars, the more interest would be would be accrued... that is what the tribunal was asked to clarify. For the company it is convenient to try to extend the payment period and increase the costs to the defense," said Parada.