Skip to content

UPDATE: Pacific Rim’s CAFTA challenge for El Salvador mine

The Inter Press Service has reported that, “Peasant farmers from the northern Salvadoran province of Cabañas fear that mining operations (by Vancouver-based 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.”

Marcelo Rivera Moreno, Ramiro Rivera Gomez, Dora Alicia Recinos, Francisco Duran Ayala

In 2007, the Ministry of Environment in El Salvador denied Pacific Rim the permits needed for their El Dorado mine. In retaliation, the company (through its US-based subsidiary) launched a $77 million US-Central America Free Trade Agreement challenge in 2008.

Over the past two years, at least nine anti-mining/ water justice activists who have expressed opposition to the mine have been murdered. In June 2009, Marcelo Rivera Moreno was found dead, he had been tortured. That December, Ramiro Rivera Gomez (the vice president of the Environmental Committee of Cabanas) was shot dead. Later that month, Dora ‘Alicia’ Recinos Sorto (also a member of the Environmental Committee) was killed. Felícita Echevarría, Esperanza Velasco, Darwin Serrano, Gerardo Abrego León were also killed. And most recently in June 2011, Juan Francisco Duran Ayala was found dead after putting up posters against the El Dorado mine. He had been shot in the head.

The company denies any involvement in these murders.

Late yesterday, Pacific Rim issued a media release stating, “The Company remains hopeful that it will either receive the El Dorado permit and mining concession or that it will be appropriately compensated. The Company will continue to seek opportunities for dialogue with the Government of El Salvador aimed at resolving its permitting issues in El Salvador including receipt of the environmental and mining permits for the El Dorado project… Should the required permits be granted, the Company will evaluate its options for resuming full scale exploration work designed to advance its El Salvador projects.”

In terms of a timeline, Pacific Rim says, “The Company can not judge if or when the required permits will be received and is not currently planning any exploration programs for its El Dorado, Santa Rita and Zamora-Cerro Colorado properties for the immediate future… Unless the Company’s international diplomatic efforts are successful, PacRim’s Central American Free Trade Agreement arbitration action is expected to proceed during fiscal 2012 and beyond. The Company is currently awaiting a ruling from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Tribunal Panel on the Government of El Salvador’s Jurisdiction Objection, anticipated in late calendar 2011.”

To read Council of Canadians blogs on this, please go to