MAC: Mines and Communities

Court Annuls Gold Mining Concession

Published by MAC on 2004-12-12

Court Annuls Gold Mining Concession

12th December 2004

Associated Press

Costa Rica's highest court has annulled a $70 million (euro61 million) concession allowing a local subsidiary of a Canadian company to dig for gold near the border with Nicaragua, authorities said Thursday.

In a ruling dated Nov. 26, Constitutional Court judges upheld an injunction filed by environmentalists in 2002 that sought to block the mining project on the grounds it violated the Central American Biodiversity agreement as well as this country's constitutional rules on the environment.

The affected company, Industrias Infinito, is the Costa Rican affiliate of Calgary-based Vannessa Ventures Ltd., whose president, John Morgan, was out of the office and unavailable for comment Thursday.

According to court filings, Industrias Infinito estimated a completed open-air mine at Las Crucitas, 110 miles (175 kilometers), north of the capital, San Jose, could one day uncover as much as 600,000 ounces of gold worth about US$435 million (euro378 million).

In news release posted on its Web site, Industrias Infinito insisted its project would not harm the environment.

"The only explanation for this decision can be an error or an incorrect interpretation" of the law, it said.

The Costa Rican Federation for Environmental Conservation issued its own statement declaring the court's decision a victory.

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