El Salvador mining ban a victory for democracy over corporate greed

30 March 2017 - 11:45am
Press release

El Salvador has become the first country in the world to pass a nationwide ban on metal mining. The landmark legislation passed with a landslide of 69 votes out of a possible 84. It was supported by all parties.

The negative impacts of mining on El Salvador has stimulated a broad-based social movement in the country, which only recently won a £205 million ($250 million) ‘corporate court’ investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) case against Australian-Canadian mining company, OceanaGold.

War on Want Senior Programme Officer Sebastian Ordonez Munoz said: "This is a historic moment for El Salvador and for a social movement which has long demanded that the needs of the people and environment of El Salvador supersede mining industry profits.

"El Salvadoran people have a human right to water, and this must be protected above the interests of corporations seeking to profit from exploiting the country’s resources."

War on Want Senior Trade Campaigner Mark Dearn said: "El Salvador has already faced down an anti-democratic secret court case because it dared to enact progressive legislation to protect its people and environment.

"It is a fundamental obligation of states to safeguard their populations, and it is a disgrace that any country should face a multi-million dollar lawsuit for doing so.

"If mining corporations decide to attack this landmark progressive legislation, they will once again demonstrate their utter disregard for democracy and the lives and livelihoods of people in the global South."

In 2009, then Canadian mining company Pacific Rim – subsequently acquired by Australian-Canadian firm, OceanaGold – launched an ISDS case against El Salvador after it was refused a mining permit. The El Salvador Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources estimates that 90% of the country’s surface water has been polluted largely due to the mining industry.

At one point, the company demanded $300 million – twice the amount the country receives in development assistance. El Salvador spent $12 million on its defence, while OceanaGold was ordered to pay $8 million legal costs.

The ban prohibits all exploration, extraction and processing of metals, whether in open pits or underground. Mining for salt, stones or sand will still be allowed under the ban, which also forbids the use of cyanide and mercury in mining.

 

Notes to editors

For more information, contact Ross Hemingway on +44 (0) 7983 550 728 or Mark Dearn on +44 (0) 7804 289 680

OceanaGold-El Salvador ISDS case: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/oct/14/el-salvador-world-bank-tribunal-dismisses-oceanagold-mining-firm-250m-claim

Latest news

Buenaventura after the Civic Strike: What Next in the Resistance?

20 September 2017 - 12:15pm

DATE: Tuesday 26 September 2017

TIME: 7-8.30pm

LOCATION: Unite the Union, 128 Theobald's Road, London, WC1X 8TN

Join us for a panel discussion with Adriel Ruiz Galvan and Gilberto Lopez Vallecilla, two frontline community activists who were at the heart of the mobilisations which brought the city of Buenaventura to a standstill earlier this year. They have travelled to Europe to denounce the ongoing human rights abuses and to denounce the UK and Europe's 'Free-Trade' connnection to violence in the city. 

Read more

Event: Precarious Workers of the World Unite

19 September 2017 - 4:45pm

Date: Monday 25th September 2017

Time:  11:30 -12:30

Location:  Synergy Centre, Brighton,

Event: Precarious Workers of the World Unite: 

Britain is facing an epidemic of insecure work. Zero hour contracts proliferate and millions of workers are denied basic employment rights and protections. Yet across the country workers are getting organised and fighting back. Join us and hear from workers from McStrike, the Picturehouse and cleaners campaigns, and discuss how precarious workers can win.

Read more

Join the conversation

May's #Brexit #trade agenda will be under the spotlight tomorrow - we need parliamentary scrutiny… https://t.co/OCydnXxlNZ 12 hours 53 min ago
May's #trade agenda favours big banks, deregulation - #Florence is the ideal location for her #Brexit speech… https://t.co/gPGhI7RR3S 19 hours 14 min ago
ACTION: Let's restore #hope & take back control of #Brexit #trade talks: demand a say for public & parliament… https://t.co/ihXP3rv1Fw 19 hours 20 min ago