Panama and Costa Rica are Dealing with Canadian Mine Closures

 
2,777Views 0Comments Posted 27/06/2024

The cost of the closure of Canadian miner First Quantum's copper mine in Panama pictured above is estimated at around $800 million, says Panama’s Trade and Industry Minister Jorge Rivera.  An inter-ministry coalition, which is developing the mine's closure plan, is working on alternative measures to recoup funds so that the cost does not come out of the state's coffers. Panama's government ordered the shutdown in December after protests calling for more environmental protections erupted across the country and a court ruling deemed the contract to run the mine unconstitutional.

 

The Canadian mining company Infinito Gold has decided to drop a claim against Costa Rica for the failed Crucitas project in Cutris de San Carlos. The official website of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) states that, on June 14, 2024, “the parties filed a request for termination of the proceedings under the Arbitration Rules…” in ICSID Case No. ARB/14/5 – Infinito Gold Ltd. v. Costa Rica. This decision definitively ends a controversy that began in March 2024  when the Canadian mining company appealed to this instance after being stripped of the concession that authorized it to build and operate a gold mine.  The appeals court to which the complaint was presented at the international level has not yet accepted the petition and is expected to issue a ruling in about four weeks, as confirmed by President Rodrigo Chaves.  “When the ruling is firm, we will give the pertinent statements and clarify what the future of Crucitas will be,” he said.

 

The community of Crucitas has become a significant illegal mining district extending over dozens of square kilometers from where billions of colones have been plundered.  The only official estimate of illegally extracted gold dates back to January 30, 2020, when, in office DM-0154-2020, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, calculated that during 2017 and December 2018, 149,243 troy ounces of gold were illegally extracted, with a market value of $197,426,237 in just two years.  Edgardo Araya, environmental lawyer and former Frente Amplio law maker who brought down the mining project, pointed out that there are many doubts surrounding this decision, suggesting that something could be going on to reactivate the mine.  “Why has the government insisted so much that nothing can be done? Did they consider the existing legal prohibitions and our environmental regulations? Given what we’ve seen in this government, one could expect anything,” said Araya.  While the termination of Infinito Gold’s legal battle over the Crucitas project may mark the end of a lengthy controversy, the community of Crucitas is still waiting for solutions. Violence, insecurity, unemployment, poverty, drug trafficking, and environmental destruction are pressing issues that demand urgent attention.



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