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PRESS RELEASE: Permanent Alert against Metallic Mining in El Salvador

PRESS RELEASE / DEC. 06, 2016

On December 14, it will be 2 months since an ICSID Tribunal issued the arbitration award condemning Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold to pay the Salvadoran State $8 million US dollars in legal costs as a result the lawsuit filed by the transnational mining company 2009 against the government. The three arbitrators of the tribunal unanimously debased all arguments of the company and gave the reason to El Salvador.

Far from complying with the ICSID resolution, and in a clear insult to the resolution of the Court and the Salvadoran people, Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold has increased its activities through its subsidiary Minerales Torogoz and the El Dorado Foundation in San Isidro, Cabañas. These actions range from giving away promotional items in favor of mining, promoting excursions to an old mine and even mines located in Nicaragua, medical campaigns, and the publication of paid communiques in mass media outlets where they disseminate false information and continue to lie to the people, as they have done throughout the 7 years that the legal process has lasted.

The company has even attempted, at the end of the process, to negotiate with the Government.  After the ruling, the company has also approached some government officials who claim that the commitments made by the president are on a personal level and does not bind them. The President must be attentive to these officials.

The Salvadoran people must be clear that Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold's interest is not limited to the mining of El Dorado, it also has interests in different parts of the country, as evidenced by the mining map that establishes more than 28 projects of extractive interest located mainly in the northern region of El Salvador.

With this affront, Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold is sending a clear message that, despite being condemned to pay the $8 million dollars to the state, it remains committed to harm the environment and life in El Savior.

Faced with this context, the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador -MNFM- states:

I.- Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold must immediately pay the US $ 8 million dollars awarded by the ICSID, plus the interest that the default causes; it must respect the institutions of the country and especially the Salvadoran people.  Almost two months have passed, yet the company has not taken the serious the responsibility with the Salvadoran State; it must also comply with the decision issued by the international court, since it was the company initiated the claim with the World Bank to hear the case.

II.- The Government and its officials must cancel the permits for the operation of the El Dorado Foundation, located in San Isidro Cabañas. Their activities make no sense since Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold does not have permits for exploitation in the area and far from promoting good deeds, the foundation deepens the level of social unrest in the communities which has already taken the life of 5 environmentalists and continuing death threats to many more.

III.- It is urgent to close any possibility to the extraction of metals in the country, definitively prohibiting the exploration and exploitation of gold and silver, among other metals of the Salvadoran subsoil.  For this reason we demand of the Legislative Assembly the immediate approval of the Special Law for the Prohibition of Metallic Mining presented by the MNFM on October 1, 2013.

The newly appointed President of the Legislative Branch, Deputy Guillermo Gallegos, was the first to react positively to the ICSID gave the reason to the government of El Salvador, the MNFM takes this opportunity to remind him that today is a good moment to approve the law that prohibits metal mining in the country.

IV.- As an intermediate measure, the MNFM presented to the Presidency of the Republic a proposal for an Executive Decree to Ban Mining Concessions. The document was handed over to President Salvador Sánchez Cerén on August 25, 2016, and later to the Deputy Minister of the Environment, Dr. Ángel Ibarra, in a Public Forum held on October 26, 2016. Urgent action is required for its approval. Both the Executive Decree and the Prohibition Law are instruments to prevent the looting of El Salvador's natural assets and guarantee respect for the human rights of the Salvadoran population.

V.- The Attorney General of the Republic must comply with his legal mandate to watch over the interests of the State and initiate a process for the recovery of the US $8 million, plus interest, owed by Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold, money that is needed to serve the rights of the population in need.

VI.- Given this scenario, the MNFM declares a permanent alert against the extractive industry promoting the organized resistance  of the communities.