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Costa Rica faces billion-dollar lawsuit to protect rainforest

12/12/2013 15:25:04

Canadian mining company sues government for rejecting gold mine project

December 2013: Calgary-based mining company Infinito Gold is suing the Costa Rican government for over $1 billion because it rejected the company’s plan to build an open-pit gold mine in a tropical forest.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, rejected the company’s appeal to strike down an earlier court's annulment of a mining concession for Las Crucitas, a planned open-pit gold mine in the northern region. It is estimated the mine would destroy 190 hectares of rainforest, which is home to many already endangered species, such as the green macaw.

 In April Infinito Gold issued the government an ultimatum and set a six-month deadline “to resolve the dispute” or the company said it would pursue legal action. Infinito's appeal to the Sala IV was the latest attempt to find a legal solution to the annulment.

 Sala IV’s unanimous decision to uphold the annulment of mining concessions in November 2011 prompted Environment Minister René Castro to say, “Costa Rica has a reason to celebrate the decision. We do not want open-pit mining in our country,” adding that the ruling “enhances the ecological profile of our nation.”

 Infinito Gold said it has already invested $92 million in the project, and it claims to have lost $1 billion in potential profit. However, Costa Rican authorities have indicated that Infinito owes Costa Rica some $10 million for damage already done to 300 hectares of tropical forest. The company has yet to pay.

 The concession would have allowed the extraction of one million grams of gold in the area, a business estimated at the time at some $2 billion. In 2008, the company obtained a mining license after then-President Oscar Arias and his environment minister, Roberto Dobles, declared the project of “national interest”.

Infinito Gold’s spokeswoman in Costa Rica, Yoquebec Soto, said, “Our company will not leave the country until we are fully compensated.” 

 More than 4,500 people in Canada, Costa Rica, and around the world sent a message to Infinito Gold CEO John Morgan during the Canadian mining company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Calgary, asking that Infinito drop its lawsuit against Costa Rica. They have been joined by more than 6500 who have signed online petitions. 

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

Jens

I have been living in the middle of the Canadian Tar Sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta for 10 years. My experience is that the very last body to expect concern for wild live, nature or human beings would be a Canadian mining company. They care for one think only, profit, and will steamroll anything else if we let them.

Posted by: Jens Oppel | 16 Mar 2014 18:15:43

Not enough information

I think there is not enough information to make a decision either way. My gut feels for costa rica, but tell me about this permitting process, I would like more information about it. It seems unfair that after years of work and money invested into something, that a government election radically changes it. I could understand them wanting some compensation and stating 1 billion might be semantics but when you negotiate you start high. If was a company wanting to invest in a nation for whatever reason this decision could be seen as concerning

Posted by: Daniel | 17 Dec 2013 06:36:23

Robert

I e-mailed the Canadian mining company yesterday, telling them to get the hell out of Costa Rica. I cannot put into words how much I hate these aggressive corporate whores. I cannot understand why Costa Rica made the mistake of allowing them into the country in the first place.

Posted by: Robert King | 16 Dec 2013 22:37:02

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