The Costa Rican Supreme Court (Sala IV) ruled last Friday that a small Canadian mining company can proceed with its open-pit gold mine, striking down complaints from environmental groups that the project was destroying virgin forest.
“After reviewing the official studies we did not find that this mining project will negatively affect the environment. So the project will go ahead,” Vanlly Cantillo, a court spokeswoman said.
For years the Crucitas mine near the border of Nicaragua was closed until last weeks court ruling allowed it to open, a victory against environmentalists who had complained that the mine owner Infinito Gold Ltd (IG.V) would be breaking the law by cutting down trees in forests that are home to such wildlife as the endangered great green macaw and other precious birds.
Crucitas will be Costa Rica’s first major gold mine with a capacity to produce 85,000 ounces of gold annually. An U.S capital investment of $66 million was raised to start the mine with an indicated resource of 1.2 million ounces of gold, according to the company’s website. Obviously, Costa Rica Minister of Energy and Mining helped spearhead the permits, and will receive a few million in revenue.
Almost all the investment came from U.S. and only a few Canadian businesses and not from Costa Rica. The leftist Grupo Costa Rica en Acción called the company “foreign fraudsters.” It also called the Sala IV, “… accomplices of the Óscar Arias administration.”
“Now we must show Costa Rica that Crucitas will be a model of sustainable mining,” said Infinito Gold’s President John Morgan.
With approximately half of its surface covered in lush forest, Costa Rica is a world leader in eco-preservation.
When President Oscar Arias reversed a moratorium on open pit mining after taking office and declared the Crucitas project of “national interest,” – this sparked an eco-war with environmentalists. And it is expected that Laura Chinchilla, the country’s president-elect who takes office in May, and who is protege of Arias is also expected to follow closely the policies of Arias government, which is another strike against environmentalists.
The mine will be hiring local residences, so many in the vicinity can’t wait for the project to begin because of the economic benefit.