MAC: Mines and Communities

Hunger Strikers Get Non-Committal Response on Mine, Costa Rica

Published by MAC on 2010-11-08
Source: Adital, Tico Times (2010-10-20)

Activists on hunger strike seek to put an end to open pit gold exploitation

By Karol Assunção

Adital

20 October 2010

In Costa Rica, three activists of the Northern Front Against Mining and of the Ni Una Sola Mina Committee have been on a hunger strike since the 8th of this month for the repeal of the Executive Decree No. 34-8001 of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (34-8001 Minaet).

The decree, signed in 2008 by then President Oscar Arias - who declared the project of "national interest" - grants the exploitation of Las Crucitas mine to Canadian company Infinito Gold. For the organizations however, the mining project will cause serious environmental problems due to contamination.

"Two aquifers will be contaminated by the cyanide used for the extraction of gold, and also the San Juan River basin, along the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, will be affected", says the statement of the Ecological Action Network, who are in solidarity with activists.

The Network also notes that at least 200 hectares of tropical rainforest located in the Northeast of the country, will be sacrificed because of mining. They reveal that, "The concession, located in San Carlos, for the exploitation of the Las Crucitas mine, was given to the Canadian company Infinito Gold through procedures that are considered irregular, especially regarding the accuracy of environmental impact studies and of the surfacethe amount of land that will be destroyed by mining activities."

It is not only environmentalists who are against the project. According to the release of Renace, "90% of Costa Ricans oppose the mining company Industrias Infinito."

Hunger strike

Critics of open pit gold mining in the country, namely 13 activists of the Northern Front Against Mining and Ni Una Sola Mina coordinator, who are critics of open pit gold mining in the country, began the hunger strike on the 8th of this month outside the Presidential Palace in Costa Rica.

The three remaining activists that continue the hunger strike, Rosie Porras, Andres Guillen and David Rojas, said they will continue until the government repeals the decree.

"If it [the decree] remains in effect, it would represent an extremely serious precedent in regard to the change of forest land use for the benefit of private interests and to the detriment of the environment, biodiversity, communities and a large part of the Costa Rican population" as stated in the press release of both organizations on last Sunday 17th of October.

English translation by MAC editors


Hunger Strikers Get Non-Committal Response from Chinchilla on Mine

By Mike McDonald

Tico Times

21 October 2010

The Costa Rican government reaffirmed its position this week that it will respect the decisions of the courts regarding the controversial Crucitas open pit gold mine in northern Costa Rica.

The announcement came after three mine opponents who are on a huger strike in front of Casa Presidencial requested that the government annul the executive decree, signed by former President Oscar Arias, which declared the project to be in the public interest. The declaration gave the mining company the right to clear forest at the mine site among other advantages.

In a letter to the strikers, Costa Rican Vice-President Alfio Piva said, "the President is committed to and has followed through on declaring an indefinite national moratorium on all [new] gold mining projects...and has expressed that she will respect and comply with the decision of the Costa Rican courts regarding this specific case."

The legality of the Crucitas executive decree is being weighed by Costa Rica's Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Hearings in the case could conclude next week.

By Thursday, the remaining three hunger strikers had fasted for 13 days in front of Casa Presidencial. Since it began, 11 fasters have abandoned the strike.

David Rojas, coordinator for the opposition group Ni Una Sola Mina (Not a single mine) said in an e-mail that "unfortunately, this isn't the response that Costa Ricans were hoping for from their president, Laura Chinchilla."

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