Latest Reports and Studies

Peoples Sovereignty vs Impunity Inc.

In eight articles various cases are presened that aim to serve as tools of action for activists to use in their fight for justice against th...

The Fight Against Gold Mining in El Salvador

Article on the Chalatenango Free of Mining Campaign published in Practicing Anthropology. Read Here...

PRESS RELEASE: Mining, Corporate Social Respo…

Download the Report here (Ottawa/Washington/Melbourne)  A new study finds that OceanaGold’s attempt to rebrand its propose...

'Let Us Care for Everyone's Home': The Cathol…

A recently published essay by Phd candidate Rachel Nadelman looks at the role of the Catholic Church in the anti-mining struggle in El Salva...

  • International Allies Against Mining in El SalvadorWe are a group of organisations from Australia Canada, Europe and the U.S. that support the Salvadoran people's demand for sovereignty, the right to water and healthy communities. We coordinate our work with the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador and with communities directly affected by mining projects.  

    Read More
  • 1


Sebastian Rosemont: Huffinton Post

The vote marked the culmination of a decade of pressure from activists, environmentalists and the Catholic church.

In an historic vote, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to ban metal mining. On Wednesday, March 29, the Legislative Assembly voted unanimously to approve the Law to Ban Metal Mining, which prohibits all mining activities from exploration to extraction to processing.

Despite last minute lobbying by one of the country’s largest mining interests, all 70 present members of the assembly voted in favor of the ban. It now heads to President Salvador Sánchez Cerén’s desk who has said he will sign it.


Representative Ana Marina Alvarenga, from the left-wing FMLN party, said that the vote was a “popular victory in which our great little country has won this battle against a transnational (mining) company.”

The vote marked the culmination of more than a decade of pressure from community activists, environmentalists, and increasingly, from the powerful Catholic church. In the viewing section of the Legislative Assembly, activists cheered, hugged, and cried as the vote total passed the threshold.

“The unanimous vote to prohibit mining vindicated communities who for more than a decade organized relentlessly to demand a mining ban and their right to determine their form of sustainable development,” said Pedro Cabezas, a member of theInternational Allies Against Mining in El Salvador, a key organizing and solidarity group.

Over the past three years, Cabezas has worked within local networks to organize municipal referendums on mining. In community after community, majorities voted to impose bans within their borders.

The anti-mining movement was able to bridge deeply partisan divides and rally supporters with the slogan “No to Mining! Yes to Life!” The message focused on the well-being of Salvadorans and argued that mining posed a grave risk to the country’s fragile environment.

FMLN Representative Guillermo Mata, who is the president of the Assembly’s Environment and Climate Change Commission, highlighted that fragility pointing out that El Salvador “is a densely populated country...with less than 3% of forests remaining, and 90% of the surface and subterranean water is contaminated.” He added that mining companies’ use of toxic chemicals, primarily cyanide, “harms ecosystems, harms biodiversity, and contaminates the air and soil.”

El Salvador is listed by the United Nations as one of the most environmentally degraded countries in the Latin America, and that’s without any major mining operations. The enormous threat of large-scale mining for rural communities with limited access to resources drew in the Catholic hierarchy, which overcame its own internal divisions to unite against mining in order to protect the people of El Salvador.

In the past few months, the church threw its weight behind the ban. In February, the Archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, delivered the bill for the Law to Ban Mining to the Legislative Assembly. In early March, the church called an anti-mining rally and garnered promises from key political leaders to support the ban.

Escobar Alas urged the Salvadoran representatives, “of every political party, with dignity, approve this law that aims to protect El Salvador, to protect everyone, especially the poorest that live in those (affected) areas.”

The years long struggle had a dark side. The El Dorado project (originally owned by Pacific Rim before being acquired by Australian-Canadian mining giant OceanaGold in 2013) in the northern province of Cabañas became the epicenter of the conflict. Between 2009-2011, four activists and community leaders were murdered. After the vote, representatives, activist leaders, and Church officials took a moment to honor the memories of Marcelo Rivera, Ramiro Rivera Gómez, Dora Alicia Recinos Sorto (who was eight months pregnant), and Juan Francisco Durán Ayala.

The El Dorado project generated a legal battle that lasted nearly a decade between OceanaGold/Pacific Rim and the Government of El Salvador. After the president of El Salvador placed a moratorium on mining in 2008, the company sued the small Central American country for $250 million dollars for an alleged violation of investor rights.

Under Free Trade Agreement rules, the case ended up before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank tribunal, which found that the company had not complied with the basic requirements for a mining permit. The panel awarded El Salvador $8 million to partially cover its legal fees. OceanaGold has still not paid the amount ordered by the court and continued operate a pro-mining foundation and to lobby the government to allow it to mine in the country.

The day before the assembly’s vote, the ICSID ordered OceanaGold to pay 2 to 5 percent interest per month on the $8 million it owes to the government. In the days leading up to the vote, lawmakers reported that OceanaGold paid residents from the countryside to rally against the ban at the capital.

Vidalina Morales, the president of the Association for Economic and Social Development (ADES) in Cabañas and an internationally known environmental activist, has been fighting against mining in El Salvador from the very beginning. She hopes El Salvador’s monumental victory will reverberate around the world.

“It is a momentous step in the history of a country as small as El Salvador, that opens the doors to be an example to other countries in the world that must focus their eyes and heart on their people, on their environment.”


Republished from:

Recent News

Looming threats to the mining prohibition in El Salvador

Mining prohibition El Salvador - Thursday, 8 February 2018 - 07:02 AM

P. Cabezas In March 2017, El Salvador became the first country in the world to ban metallic mining. But the huge victory of the antimining movement and the international recognition it has garnered may be overshadowed by a current electoral campaign...

Lack of proposals from political candidates on the Environmental Crisis in El Sa…

Media Releases - Thursday, 8 February 2018 - 06:02 AM

PRESS RELEASE: National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining  For many years El Salvador has faced serious environmental degradation provoked in its majority by industrial processes of big corporations.  In 2018 the panorama would have been even worse, if El Salvador had given...

Long-Fought-For Ombudsperson Announced to Investigate International Complaints a…

Mining and Human Rights - Thursday, 8 February 2018 - 06:02 AM

NEWS RELEASE : January 17, 2018 (Ottawa) Today, Canada’s International Trade Minister announced the creation of a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to investigate human rights complaints about the overseas operations of Canadian companies and recommend remedy for harm done. The ombudsperson’s recommendations...

A year with a bitter taste in environmental matters in El Salvador

Mining prohibition El Salvador - Thursday, 1 February 2018 - 15:02 PM

Alfredo Carias: Vanguardia In the midst of an important victory in El Salvador, an evaluation of the social and environmental conditions in the country contrasts to the achievements obtained with the prohibition of mining. According to the Salvadoran authorities, progress has been...

National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining demands justice in the case of murde…

Pacific Rim/OceanaGold - Thursday, 1 February 2018 - 14:02 PM

Marisol Miranda: CoLatino Although there is a law against mining, fear is always present. “OceanaGold still owns the El Dorado miming project, and they are only waiting for a change of government for it to be installed again", said Domingo Miranda, at...

Can Victory Over Irresponsible Mining in Central America Spur a Win in the Phili…

Pacific Rim/OceanaGold - Thursday, 1 February 2018 - 13:02 PM

John Cavanagh, Robin Broad : RAPPLER OceanaGold was stunningly defeated in El Salvador last March. Can it be defeated in the Philippines by 2019? In March 2017, the small nation of El Salvador took a huge step towards protecting its environment for present and future generations...

Latin American Women Weaving Territories

Media Releases - Thursday, 1 February 2018 - 13:02 PM

PRESS RELEASE WOMEN OF GUATEMALA, HONDURAS AND EL SALVADOR DENOUNCE THE IMPACTS OF THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES The women of the Peaceful Resistance La Puya and the Municipality of Mataquescuintla, in Guatemala; RENACAMIH and COPINH, Honduras, ADES Santa Marta in El Salvador, and...

ICSID on the bench of the accused

Pacific Rim/OceanaGold - Wednesday, 15 November 2017 - 05:11 AM

Rufo Valencia - Radio Canada International Manuel Perez Rocha interviewed by Radio Canada International. Click here to hear the interview.  One year ago, an international coalition of civil society organizations, where Mining Watch Canada participated, released a press statement entitled: “There are no...

Mining company continues lobbying efforts to repeal Anti-Mining Law

Pacific Rim/OceanaGold - Tuesday, 14 November 2017 - 19:11 PM

Mario Beltrán - Contrapunto Environmental NGOs fear that the approaching electoral season might advance the company´s goals at the expense of the environment. Environmental organizations are worried about the promotion and education on mining that the El Dorado Foundation (face of "Corporate Social...

Collective reflections towards the UN Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporatio…

Pacific Rim/OceanaGold - Tuesday, 14 November 2017 - 19:11 PM

  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO VIDEO: On the occasion of the third session of the UN Human Rights Council open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG), the Transnational Institute, Europe-Third World...

More from this category


El Salvador – When The Seeds Of Resistance Bloom

Friday, June 23, 2017 - 19:06 PM

Mining prohibition El Salvador

Thomas Mc Donagh and Aldo Orellana López : The Democracy Center On 29th March 2017 legislators in El Salvador approved a blanket ban on all metal mining activities in the country – the first...

Read more

Historic Wins for Democracy and Rights in El Salvador

Monday, June 26, 2017 - 17:06 PM

Mining prohibition El Salvador

Robin Broad and John Cavanagh : Ethics and International Affairs   Recently there have been two giant wins for democracy, human rights, and the environment in an unlikely spot: the small, embattled nation...

Read more
Design: Estudio Gráfico SV | Website by Heavy Web Design