Costa Rican court shuts down Canadian gold minePublished by MAC on 2010-11-29
Source: Tico Times, Inside Costa Rica, others
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Costa Rican Court Strikes Down Las Crucitas Gold Mine Project
24 November 2010
In a monumental ruling that ends a years-long battle over the right to build a massive gold mine along the Nicaraguan border, a Costa Rican court has annulled the mining concession previously granted to Industrias Infinito, S.A., and ordered the company to pay environmental damages.
A battle, often bitter, that for years pitted environmentalists and residents along Costa Rican's northern border with Nicaragua, against a Canadian owned and Costa Rican operated gold mine, recorded a pivotal moment today when a Costa Rican court annulled a government mining concession granted to Industrias Infinito, S.A., a Costa Rican-owned company.
The gold mine at Las Crucitas - named after the nearby town of the same title - has long been a thorny issue for a country that prides itself on its record of environmental protection. Environmentalists say the massive gold mining project - already well underway - would destroy hundreds of trees, including the nationally protected Almond tree, a habitat for the endangered Green Macaw. The project could also potentially pollute the region's groundwater supply.
"Today is one of the happiest days of my professional life," Carlos Coverdale, of the environmental group Preserve Planet, said in a statement.
"We've clearly demonstrated that the Crucitas Project is not viable. The whole country should be celebrating," he said.
Indeed, after the verdict was made public at about 5 p.m. local time, cars honking their horns could be heard throughout downtown San José, the capital. A representative for the company was attacked by angry protesters as he left the courtroom.
Lawyers representing the company are expected to appeal the ruling. "I believe there is an appeal process, (but) there are other options available to us," Industrias Infito's president, John Morgan, said in September. Morgan said the company has not ruled out seeking international arbitration, a move that in the past has had limited success for other companies in Costa Rica.
Infinito Gold loses more than half its value on reports Costa Rican court annulled a gold mine concession
25 November 2010
Infinito Gold Ltd (IG.V) has lost more than half its value amid reports that a Costa Rican court annulled a gold mine concession held by the Canadian miner on Wednesday, saying the company's open-pit Crucitas mine was hurting the local environment.
"The existence of this damage has been proved during the case," Judge Grace Loaiza is quoted as saying in a Reuters report.
Reuters says the administrative court's decision comes after Costa Rica's Supreme Court ruled in April that the Crucitas project could move forward. After that ruling, environmentalists put together a new case to challenge the mine's legality, Reuters adds.
Infinito Gold reportedly said through a spokesman it would appeal the administrative court's ruling. Reuters says Infinito has already sunk $127 million on infrastructure into Crucitas, which has an indicated resource of 1.2 million ounces.
Costa Rica's Former President Oscar Arias May Have To Stand Trial
26 November 2010
Costa Rican magistrates recommended that the Public Ministry open a trial against former president Oscar Arias, after irregularities detected in the process for the concession of a gold mine to a transnational. The court recommendation follows a ruling that cancelled the Crucitas mining concession approved during the Arias administration.
Arias, who governed between 2006 and 2010 (second term), declared the exploitation of a mine called Crucitas in the north of the nation as of "national interest" despite the damages to the environment.
The court that annulled the executive decree, considered opening a trial against Arias, former Environment Minister Roberto Robles and other officials who were involved.
Edgardo Araya, a lawyer working for ecologist association Norte por La Vida, supported opening an investigation on Arias and the other people involved in granting the authorization to Industrias Infinito, a Canadian company.
The court was formed by judges Eduardo Gonzalez, David Fallas and Grace Loaiza.
The concession to take a million ounces of gold from the mine was cancelled.
Magistrates confirmed irregularities when granting the permissions and the elimination of a public road in the zone.
The court ruled that the government, the National System for Conservation Areas and Industrias Infinito must pay for the damages.