MAC: Mines and Communities

El Salvadorean civil society position on Goldcorp's Cerro Blanco mine

Published by MAC on 2013-08-07
Source: Statement (2013-08-03)

Position of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining on the temporary suspension of Goldcorp's Cerro Blanco mining project

Statement by El Salvador National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining

3 August 2013

Given the recent announcement by Goldcorp Inc. on the indefinite suspension of the Cerro Blanco mining project, the most advanced project in the border of El Salvador and Guatemala, the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining makes the following statement:

Last week, a Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc., citing an unfavourable financial context for metal mining investment globally, announced the suspension of three mega projects, among them the emblematic Cerro Blanco gold project located in Guatemala, only 18 kilometres from the city of Metapan, in the western department of Santa Ana, El Salvador.

In contrast to the financial issues cited by Goldcorp, on various occasions and in presentations to different representatives of the Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments we have presented information demonstrating the inaccurate technical projections that the company made when soliciting its exploration and exploitation permits. The Cerro Blanco mine is situated on geothermal reservoirs with temperatures above 80 degrees Celsius that, to date, have been the main technical hurdle that the company has not been able to overcome and that has resulted in higher costs than projected.

The costs, however, are not merely economic. Both the Guatemalan government and the mining company have faced in recent years a high degree of social and political resistance from communities in Guatemala and El Salvador that have forced the presidents of both governments to make public statements on the issue. The water contamination that resulting from the mine would also violate the constitution of both countries along with international agreements such as the Treaty for the implementation of the Trifinio Plan, signed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the American Convention Human Rights, and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially for waterfowl habitat.

As a result, we stress that the suspension of the Cerro Blanco mine is not just a result of cold financial calculation as the company suggests. Rather, this has also been a result of processes of community struggle and resistance in defense of their water and territory, that are driving their social and cultural demands.

As the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining, we stand with Guatemalan and Salvadoran communities to demand that the government of Guatemala ensure the definitive closure of the Cerro Blanco mine. Its technical and socio-environmental inviability have been demonstrated and as such, instead of a temporary suspension, the definitive closure of the mining project should be carried out to avoid a political and environmental disaster between the two Central American countries.

We ask the Salvadoran government to strengthen its position and use its diplomatic channels to ask the Guatemalan government to definitively close the mine. And, since the Cerro Blanco mine is only one of 49 known mining projects on the border with El Salvador, this case should serve as the motivation for an urgent regional dialogue and agreements toward the integrated and sustainable management of transnational waters and watersheds.

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