Gold extraction companies denied permits due to poor environmental records file lawsuit against El Salvador government

Manuel Pérez-Rocha, director of the “The Nafta Plus and the SPP Advocacy Project” which is a part of the Global Economy Project writes about his encounter with activists in El Salvador and their ‘Struggle for resource rights’:

The National Roundtable on Metallic Mining of El Salvador (La Mesa) is a broad group of community organizations, human rights NGOs, church groups, and research centers that have been working courageously — several of their members have been murdered, and many have received death threats — to prevent gold extraction in El Salvador. Among other environmental impacts, this gold mining would pollute the already-scarce water basins with cyanide. The European Parliament recently banned this activity.

Last year, La Mesa succeeded in persuading the Salvadoran government to halt gold extraction by denying permits to the Canadian-based Pacific Rim and the U.S.-based Commerce Group and Sebastian Gold Mines (Commerce Group). The activists bolstered their case with studies that demonstrate the lack of satisfactory environmental impact assessments, in the case of Pacific Rim, and the already poor environmental record of Commerce Group.

After being denied the permits, the companies took their quest for gold to Washington. Both are suing El Salvador at the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). They are demanding $100 million each in damages under the investment chapter in the Central America–Dominican Republic–United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), a treaty that went into effect in 2005 with seven signatories, including El Salvador.

Read more here to find out about the ICSID tribunal ruling last month and their response to the arguments presented by the El Salvador government in January in defence of the charges made by Pacific Rim and Commerce Group – shocking!

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