MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2007-05-15



Announcement by the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador over the mining operations of gold and silver

May 2007

Our small country is the place where God the Creator has called us to life. This is the part of the world that He has trusted us to care for and use according to His will: "Go to the earth and care for it" (Genesis 1, 28). But this blessed land which we love with all our hearts is suffering a growing and merciless deterioration. We are all responsible to conserve and defend the earth because the environment is the "home of all of us" -- of ourselves and of our future generations.

From this perspective of faith we would like to share with you our pastoral vision over a problem which concerns us deeply: The possibility of authorization of mining operations for precious metals, both open pit and underground, in the northern zone of our country.

The experiences that brother and sister countries who have permitted this type of mining exploitation are living through is truly sad and lamentable. The bishops of these countries have raised their voices. And we also want to lift our voices, before it is too late.

The reasons for our concern are the following:

1. It is more and more proven that this type of mining operation causes irreversible damages to the environment and nearby communities.

2. People suffer serious health problems principally due to the use of cyanide in large quantities for the extraction of gold and silver.

3. The water which is used in the process of extraction of these minerals is inevitably contaminated, setting forth an irreversible process of contamination of subsurface waters and of the rivers which little by little will cover a large part of the national territory.

4. The contamination will also cause grave impacts upon the flora and fauna, and extend to agriculture, livestock and fish.

5. In a country so small and populated such as ours, the negative effects will thus be multiplied.

For these reasons we affirm that because it is a danger to human life, and in spite of some economic benefits, the exploration and mining of precious metals should NOT be permitted in El Salvador. There is no material gain which can be compared to the value of human life.

We know that the Government has pronounced itself publicly to affirm that it will not authorize this type of operation. As pastors in service to the Salvadoran people, we support this position.

That God has given us this land so beautiful, we stand forth, so that all Salvadoran men and women will join together in the conversation and protection of life in this blessed earth.

With our blessings, we wish all the best in the name of Jesus Christ.

San Salvador, El Salvador, in the Day of the Cross, May 3, 2007

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