The conflict over gold

Passions run wide and deep when it comes to the question of gold mining in El Salvador. In a discussion I had with community leaders in Chalatenango province yesterday, no topic provoked as much vehement discourse as their opposition to the plans by gold mining companies to explore for gold and commence operations. With their voices still ringing in my ears, I looked on the internet and was confronted by today's press release by Pacific Rim, one of the Canadian gold mining companies operating in El Salvador. The release said in part:
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 27, 2007 -- Surface mapping and sampling at Pacific Rim Mining Corp.'s ("Pacific Rim" or "the Company") Zamora gold project in El Salvador has greatly expanded the size of the epithermal vein system on this project and identified bonanza gold grades...

The Zamora epithermal vein system has been traced over a strike length of approximately 21 kilometers, with high grade gold identified locally on surface along its entire length. This system is comparable in dimension to Pacific Rim's El Dorado project approximately 150 kilometers to the east, where the Company has recently made a number of exciting gold discoveries that will expand the current measured and indicated resource of 3.7 million tonnes at an average gold equivalent grade of 10.24 g/t, for a total of 1.2 million gold equivalent ounces (1.1 million ounces of gold at 9.35 g/t and 7.4 million ounces of silver at 62.24 g/t)

With civil society organizations in El Salvador having a view that there is absolutely no way gold mining should be permitted, and gold mining companies pouring millions into "bonanza" discoveries, future clashes are likely to be bitter and prolonged over this issue.


El-Visitador said…
El Salvador's North is poor. Very poor. Certainly Chalatenango, together with Cabañas and Morazán, are among the poorest of our districts. The road system, water systems, sewage systems, basic schools, middle schools, health system... these are all weakest in the North.

And the "community" leaders spoke most vehemently about luddite concerns against thousands of new jobs and new direct tax sources for their municipalities?

Is this how they set their priorities? Their most vehement concern is not educational opportunities for the community? Is not Justice and security? Is not healthcare? Is not jobs? Is not agricultural extension, new roads? Interesting set of priorities these "community" leaders have got there.

Please do not be surprised if I put quotations about these "community" leaders. I just have to wonder if they are defending the biases and prejudices of the rich-country international enviro-radical "community" or the community of poor Salvadoreans who need jobs, schools, roads, water, healthcare.

- * -

Allow me, if you will, that genuine leaders work with the system to ensure safeguards for their constituents while promoting for development.

True leaders work with those they may perceive as opponents, not against them.

Making the pie bigger for everyone, you know.

- * -

Kind of funny, just yesterday news came out that Cuba's #1 export is nickel, from, you know, its mining activities.

And they have now enhanced their deals with Big, Evil, Canadian mining companies.
Anonymous said…
New mines in Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and venezuela are in the cards. Given half a chance even good socialists and tyrants love money and they can get if from new mines. See more on this news and views at I THINK MINING
Anonymous said…
Visitador its interesting that you think proceeds from mines would bring healthcare, better roads, etc. When in reality the mining companies would just get tax breaks that benefit no one. Not to mention I doubt the jobs created will be jobs that allow people to live a decent standard of living. I dont think you are living up to your name as a visatador because your powers of observation seem to be clouded by your right wing dogma.
El-Visitador said…
"When in reality the mining companies would just get tax breaks that benefit no one"


50% of the mining tax goes to the municipality directly, the other half to the government.

It's the law.

Look it up sometime, you might learn a thing or two.
Anonymous said…
I wonder if El-visitador has ever spent time in communities in Chalatenango that are opposed to minning? Has s/he ever witnessed the process by which these communities make decisions?
El-Visitador said…
"Has s/he ever witnessed the process by which these communities make decisions?"

Certainly private individuals and private associations should always have a voice, and an opinion, and express it in the free market of ideas, and through the exercise of their civil rights through the court system and other consultative processes open to all citizens.

But in a democracy, the ultimate community leaders are our elected officials.

And the process through which our communities make decisions is through the ballot box.
Anonymous said…
Since when has anything been done by the book in ES. There are plenty of laws that are great laws and unenforced. For example the labor code has many great laws that protect workers however they are never enforced. Wow are you still living in ES or has living abroad made you think the ES operates like first world nations (which I know also dont always go by the book). I doubt that 50% of 0 will do anything for the cities or the government.
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