Costa Rica: Congress bans open-pit mines

With 49 legislative deputies present, Costa Rica’s congress voted unanimously on Nov. 9 to approve revisions to the Mining Code that would ban open-pit mining of heavy metals in future projects. The revisions would also end the use of toxic substances such as cyanide and mercury in mining. President Laura Chinchilla, who declared a moratorium on new mining projects soon after she took office in May, is expected to approve the revisions.

The ban is not retroactive, according to Claudio Monge of the Citizen Action Party, the main opposition group; it won’t affect projects that are already started, such as the Las Crucitas open-pit gold mine in San Carlos in the north of the country. Environmental activists held a hunger strike from Oct. 8 to Nov. 2 to pressure President Chinchilla to annul executive decree 34-8001 of 2008, which declares the mine, owned by the Canadian firm Infinito Gold Ltd, a matter of “national interest.” (Prensa Latina, Nov. 10; Adital, Brazil, Nov. 11)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 14.

See our last post on Costa Rica and the mineral cartel in Latin America.