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NEWS: Pacific Rim files $315 million claim against El Salvador over gold mine

The Canadian Press reports, “Pacific Rim Mining Corp. says its U.S. subsidiary has filed a US$315-million damage claim against the Government of El Salvador.”

The article adds, “The claim by PacRim Cayman LLC is part of arbitration hearing over a failure by the government to issue necessary mining licences for the company’s El Dorado gold project. …(A World Bank) tribunal will determine whether El Salvador broke its investment laws by refusing to issue the necessary mining licences for the project. It will also determine El Salvador’s monetary liability for the any breach of the investment protections for foreigners under those laws.”

The Inter Press Service has previously reported, “Peasant farmers from the northern Salvadoran province of Cabañas fear that mining operations (by Pacific Rim) planned for the region will consume 30,000 litres of water a day, drawn from the same sources that currently provide local residents with water only once a week. Environmentalists and experts have also warned that if the operations begin the cyanide that would be used by Pacific Rim to extract gold and silver could contaminate the area’s groundwater and soil.”

In response to the decision by the democratically-elected Salvadoran government to not proceed with the mine, Pacific Rim (through its US-based subsidiary) launched a $77 million US-Central America Free Trade Agreement challenge in 2008. This past June, a World Bank arbitration panel ruled that CAFTA could not be used to pursue the challenge, but decided that the case can still be pursued under the national investment law in El Salvador in a process that will be overseen by the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

The Council of Canadians and Blue Planet Project first began following this situation in May 2009, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=593.

In June 2012, we helped to organize the ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice’ conference in Vancouver. That conference featured Vidalina Morales de Gámez, a member of The National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador, also known as La Mesa. At that time we also marched to the Pacific Rim office and held a protest with about 175 people. More recently, we assisted with the tour of Morales and her La Mesa colleague Sandra Carolina Ascencio to numerous communities in British Columbia, Ontario and the Atlantic region. And this coming May, Blue Planet Project water campaigner Meera Karunananthan will be on a fact-finding mission in El Salvador related to this case.

The Canadian Press article notes, “Pacific Rim said Monday that the arbitration is in its final, merit-based phase before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.”