Stop This Canadian Company from Bullying El Salvador
The smallest Central American country of El Salvador is sitting on gold, and that spells trouble. A foreign mining company, Pacific Rim, wants that gold, but El Salvador has put a halt to those mining expeditions citing environmental concerns. In true David versus Goliath fashion, Pacific Rim is so unhappy that the company is intimidating the country with a $315-million claim.
Is El Salvador “Violating its Own Investment Law?”
As reported in The Guardian, Canada-based Pacific Rim wants El Salvador’s estimated 1.4m ounces of gold, silver and copper.
And up until 2008, El Salvador seemed to have no problem giving it up. But then 2008 happened. According to The Guardian, mining projects “polluted the water supply in San Sebastián, sparking a clean water crisis” in the country.
The incident woke Salvadoran leaders up. And the Salvadoran government halted all projects and stopped issuing permits to regroup. El Salvador is also trying to figure out if it “should continue to protect water as a human right.” (Just a reminder, water makes up over 70 percent of our body — I’d say that’s enough to qualify as a human right.)
Pacific Rim has been pleading with the government to reconsider. The Canadian company insists that it will be environmentally responsible. But El Salvador isn’t budging. So with gold dollar signs in its eyes, Pacific Rim has resorted to taking action. First, Pacific Rim tried to intimidate El Salvador by saying the country violated the Central American Free Trade (Cafta) treaty. But that didn’t work out for them, since they’re a Canadian company. Now, Pacific Rim is “accusing El Salvador instead of violating its own investment law.”
As we see in a press release posted on The Globe and Mail, Pacific Rim isn’t done pointing the finger. According to the press release, the company states:
“Had El Salvador followed its own laws, the El Dorado mine would be in operation today, employing thousands of Salvadorans in one of the poorest regions of the country,” the company said, adding that the project would be the single biggest taxpayer in El Salvador.
You know — the usual we’re doing you the favor and money-will-solve-everything approach.
Is Environmental Degradation Worth It?
Pacific Rim could be telling the truth and it’s mining could be environmentally sound. But given the industry’s track record, many environmentalists agree that mining is bad news for the environment. Here are a few ways gold mining can and has caused environmental degradation from The Washington Post:
– Mining requires a lot of energy to move tons of rock.
– Mining can result in toxic mine drainage. Sulfuric acid, arsenic and copper could find their way into lakes, rivers and streams. It’s bad for marine life, wildlife, ecosystems and people.
– In gold mining operations, ore is usually roasted and mercury is released into the atmosphere.
– After extraction, ore is usually “doused in cyanide.” Cyanide is totally lethal stuff!
– Cyanide enables operators to dig for more gold in deeper places. So there are more leftover tailings — the material after the ore has been processed. Unfortunately, “Gold tailing ponds and piles are chock-full of contaminants such as arsenic, antimony, residual cyanide and mercury.”
And you can add all of these potential environmental concerns to El Salvador’s existing myriad of problems: poverty, gang violence, political corruption and post-civil war rebuilding efforts.
Pacific Rim needs to stop intimidating the small Central American country. El Salvador has the right to protect its people and land over Canadian monetary interests. The country’s environmental concerns are real. Sign and share this petition demanding Pacific Rim stop being a bully and show your support for the Salvadoran people, wildlife and environment — the ones who will truly lose if something goes wrong.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Schultz