mining-report-cover-el-salvadorThis report, co-published by the Institute for Policy Studies and Mining Watch Canada, in collaboration with the International Allies Against Mining in El Salvador and the National Roundtable Against Mining in El Salvador, documents the current activities of the  El Dorado Foundation, operated by OceanaGold. The two companies have  sought to develop a disputed gold project that is the subject of a controversial international arbitration process.

This analysis raised questions over the Foundation and OceanaGold’s ethics, legitimacy, and legality.



Key conclusions:

The activities of OceanaGold and the El Dorado Foundation should cease and the Foundation should be closed. The research team encourages the Salvadorian authorities in Cabañas and the central government to fully investigate the activities of OceanaGold, including through the El Dorado Foundation. This should include a release and audit of the Foundation’s financial records since 2011 to be made available to the public.

  • OceanaGold is using the El Dorado Foundation to increase social and political support for opening the El Dorado gold mine in Cabañas.
  • Canadian-Australian mining company OceanaGold is suing El Salvador for $250 million at a World Bank tribunal when the company failed to obtain a mining permit for which it never met regulatory requirements.
  • Three successive Salvadoran presidents have committed not to issue new mining permits, while a 2015 opinion poll found that opposition to metal mining is nearly 79.5% nationwide and 83.9% in municipalities affected by OceanaGold’s project.
  • The Foundation’s brochures fail to acknowledge the local complaints about violent conflict, demolition of homes, and water contamination that resulted from OceanaGold’s gold and copper mines in other locations around the world.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, four community members were murdered in apparent connection with their environmental activism in Cabañas. Similarly, various local organizations have received numerous threats since this time. These crimes have never been fully investigated.
  • The foundation is creating false expectations for employment, since the mining project has never met the regulatory requirements for mining in El Salvador.
  • OceanaGold’s willingness to continue the lawsuit that has already cost the state  $12.7 million exhibits blatant disregard for the views and well being of the Salvadorian people.
  • The Foundation’s charter of incorporation is limited to nonprofit activities and OceanaGold’s use of the Foundation to try to advance its commercial activities may be a breach of Salvadorian law.

Read the full report in English here [PDF].

Read the full report in Spanish here [PDF].

Stuart Kirsch is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. Jennifer Moore is the Latina America program coordinator at MiningWatch Canada. Manuel Perez-Rocha is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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