Dominican Republic mining contract challenged

The Justice and Transparency Foundation (FJT), a Dominican civil organization, has filed for an injunction against a contract the government signed with the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation for the Pueblo Viejo gold mine in CotuĂ­ in the Dominican Republic’s central province of Sánchez RamĂ­rez. The mine, a joint venture of Barrick and the Vancouver-based multinational Goldcorp Inc., opened last August despite strong opposition from environmental groups. It is set to begin exporting gold in February.

According to the FJT, the company expects to make $2 billion from the gold it exports this year, while the Dominican government will only receive $53 million. Over the next 25 years Barrick Gold will get back something like $50 billion on its $3.7 billion initial investment, FJT president Trajano Potentini said on Feb. 4. The country will receive just $1.3 billion, while it will have the sole responsibility for dealing with the mine’s damage to the environment. Potentini called legislators who approved the contract “traitors to the country.” In addition to the legal filing, the foundation was planning a national day of consciousness-raising around the issue. (Hoy, Santo Domingo, Feb. 4; Adital, Brazil, Feb. 8)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 10.