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COSTA RICA
Read my lips: no (new) mining
3/17/2010
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President-elect Chinchilla vows to reinstate ban on open-pit mining, but will not touch Crucitas.

Costa Rica´s President-elect Laura Chinchilla has promised to reinstate a moratorium on open-pit mining when she takes office in May, but her plan will not affect Las Crucitas, the contested gold mine that sits near the border with Nicaragua.

“Neither exploration nor exploitation,” said Chinchilla, who was elected in a landslide in February.

Outgoing President Óscar Arias lifted the ban on open-pit mining in 2008, which had previously blocked work at the Crucitas gold mine in northern Costa Rica, calling the project of “public interest.”

The mine, owned by Canadian company Infinito Gold, has sparked an outcry of environmentalist and local residents who warn it will cause massive deforestation, soil and water pollution, particularly of the San Juan River, which separates Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The seven-judge panel of the Supreme Court´s Constitutional Chamber is currently debating whether the mine, a US$66 million-project, which is estimated to hold 1.2 million ounces of gold, can operate.

But Chinchilla said the case is already in the court and the mine has a 15-year-old concession so the ban on open-pit mining will not affect Crucitas, which is in the hands of the court.

“It´s a concession that has already been granted,” she said, adding that her government, which begins on May 8, will leave the matter up to the court, “unless we want to have an international case for I don´t know how many millions [of dollars].”

Costa Rica, which is self-touted as a beacon of environmentally-friendly policies, has very little metallic minerals and some opponents of the project say the environmental and social impact of the mine does not validate the money it would generate for the country.
–Latinamerica Press.


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