Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining, recently acquired by Australian-Canadian firm OceanaGold, has been trying to access gold deposits in northern El Salvador for close to a decade. In 2009, Pacific Rim launched a multi-million dollar lawsuit against El Salvador in a World Bank arbitration tribunal for not having granted the company the permit to put its El Dorado mine project into operation.
OceanaGold, having bailed out Pacific Rim from near bankruptcy in November 2013, aims to strike a deal with the Salvadoran government or continue fighting the suit. But OceanaGold is hedging its bets based on shaky grounds. Pacific Rim never fulfilled the necessary requirements to obtain its permit.
Furthermore, communities in the surrounding department of Cabañas – and most Salvadorans – do not want mining in their country. As the smallest and most densely populated country in Latin America with already stressed water supplies, Salvadorans are unwilling to face the risks that industrial metal mining represents. OceanaGold’s open-pit gold and copper project in the Philippines illustrates the costs of mining that Salvadorans do not want to bear. The company’s lawsuit aims to undermine public debate and to contain democratic public policy-making.
This report, published by the Blue Planet Project, the Council of Canadians, the Institute for Policy Studies, MiningWatch Canada, and Oxfam International, responds to eight “falsehoods” from Pacific Rim/OceanaGold.