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NEWS: Calgary-based company loses bid for open pit gold mine in Costa Rica

Calgary-based Infinito Gold Inc. wants to operate an open-pit gold mine in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone near the Nicaragua border.

As reported by Tico Times, “In 2006, then-president Óscar Arias signed a decree saying the mine was in Costa Rica’s public interest and gave the go-ahead to the project, which was already facing stiff opposition from environmental groups. Environmentalists claimed the mine would not only destroy almond trees, a nationally protected species and habitat to the endangered green macaw, but would also pose a serious risk of polluting ground water supplies in the area.”

“Since then, the proposal has been batted back and forth between courts and lawyers battling either to halt construction of the mine or to get the ball rolling on gold extraction.” And there was dismay, anger and protests over Costa Rica’s top court ruling that the company’s mining concession permits were valid.

But in what is seen as a major win, Tico Times reported on November 30 that, “Infinito Gold Ltd. Is down 40% at 6 cents a share, giving up 4 cents in steady volume after the Supreme Court of Costa Rica rejected the company’s request to annul an earlier administrative decision tossing out the company’s mining permits for the Crucitas gold project.”

But the story doesn’t end here. Given the decision, it has also been reported that Infinito Gold has indicated it may seek $127 million in compensation. It is possible that they could consider doing so through the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement which has been in effect since November 2002.

And according to Inside Costa Rica, “A substitute judge has been placed under investigation by an emergency session of the Supreme Court for allegedly leaking the first draft of the decision regarding the mine (to Infinito).” Judge Moises Fachler has admitted to visiting the home of Juan Carlos Obando, Infinito’s corporate relations manager, but he claims they are friends and that the visit has been ‘misinterpreted’. Obando is now serving a year-long prison sentence stemming from another charge of bribing a mayor in 2005.