Public opinions on mining

Mining companies, such as Pacific Rim, have not convinced Salvadorans that gold mining will benefit the country. Although some persons have asserted in the comments of this blog that opposition to mining is just the product of a vocal group of outside gringo environmentalists who care nothing for the well-being of Salvadorans, a recent opinion poll shows a strong majority of Salvadorans in the potentially affected regions oppose mining. The poll was reported in an article in ContraPunto:
The results of the poll from the [UCA public opinion institute] are more than clear. The populations that inhabit the territories where mining is planned don't approve the activities, and moreover they reject the declarations of the mining industry that assures them that with the activity hundreds of jobs will be created and there will be improvements for the social and economic development of the communities.

62.5% of the population polled expressed the opinion that El Salvador is not an adequate territory for realizing mining works. Those interviewed were clear on the type of damages that the exploitation will generate, 80% of those consulted identify specific impacts like the contamination of rivers, soil, air, deforestation, water scarcity, wet season floods, among other effects.

The local peoples fear that the mining industry will affect their life -- 57.2% of those questioned expressed that fear. Also they showed themselves worried about foreseeable difficulties or damages in growing agricultural products. 56.8% were sure that it would effect them greatly. 59.2% feared that they would see livestock raising affected in their area.

The local development that the mines promote as a benefit, is not a view shared by the inhabitants of the northern zone of the country. 67.6% of those consulted believe that mining jobs would contribute little or nothing to the economic development of their municipality. (errors in translation are mine)

You can read the entire report of the public opinion poll here. Opposition to mining has also been expressed by the Catholic bishops of El Salvador due to, in the church's words, the "irreversible damage is causes to persons and the environment."


Anonymous said…
Salvadorians need education with respect to earth sciences and mining provided by the mining companies AND the government. This is the only way the population can give a truly knowledge-based opinion on mining (whether positive or negative). The problem now is that the poorly educated campesinos are being influenced by politics oriented NGO's who modify reality and turn it into fear.
Anonymous said…

How much do they pay you to post your information? It's ridiculous to expect the general public to have any knowledge of what truly would be impacted.

I'm sure those that need to keep themselves in power are truly threatened by anything that will give them hope besides the Church.
Tim said…
Anonymous 1 and 2 (or maybe you are the same person) -- it's useful if you give yourself a name for your posts so we can keep track of who is saying what. No need to use your real name, or to sign in to blogger, just give yourself a name.

If you want to add to the discussion, you are welcome here. Rather than just saying those who oppose mining are wrong, or that the 60% of Salvadorans who oppose mining are stupid, present us with the statistics, the science or the experts, to support the case that gold mining will be a net benefit for El Salvador.

You may want to consider the New York Times series of articles on gold mining and its consequences in developing countries to understand why people with good motives can be concerned about the prospect of gold mining in El Salvador.

I am sure that El Visitador will be commenting on this post very soon. E-V, I assume you will point to gold mines in the US and argue if the US can have gold mines, why not El Salvador? My question back, is whether you think El Salvador can put in place effective environmental regulations and a functioning civil tort system which would require compensation to victims of toxic environmental damages if such damages did occur? In light of your strong opposition to government involvement in society, how can the government of El Salvador assure that the feared consequences do not occur? The current track record is not very good.

Finally, I write often about gold mining because it is likely to be a major source of conflict in the coming year as the gold mining companies seek to get operational permits and a new mining law is considered. And no one is paying me.
Anonymous said…
"Salvadorians need education with respect to earth sciences and mining provided by the mining companies AND the government."

As if the government were a trustworthy source! (Other than the PDDH, that i.)
Anonymous said…
wether we support it or not gold mining in el salvador will occur.
does anyone remember dollarization?
how 93.7% of the salvadoran population was against it and vouala, we've been using the dollar as sole currency for what, sever years, and still counting. so that's how things are run in el salvador, if you have the money and the power, things will go your way. on a different approach, from a good old neo-liberal point of view, it is not that gold mining can be so bad, in fact, in theory of course, it would mean the creation or generation of wealth for the country, directly for those foreign companies, indirectly for the salvadoran economy and people; so far it sounds pretty decent, since as el visitador once mentioned, there is limited wealth in el salvador and we should make that "wealth pie" bigger so regular commoners such as ourselves can have a chance at earning a better slice of that pie. well, it sounds favorably, however, my concern is, as i assume are the same as those of environmentalists and others who oppose this project, is that el salvador has too weak of a government and sadly very uneducated( uninformed if you will) of a society to really do things the right way. gold mining is not so bad, but in el salvador there's a good chance that it would become a dissaster. i mean, just look at how that incompetent bureucracy runs the system, making things hard for everyone, yes including big companies, with their inneficience in having a solid, orderly and logical system of government. of course this comment also hints at the BS that we call the salvadoran judicial system and little investment in educating the public from an early age, so that when opportunities like this come up, they actually know what's going on and judge from there, instead of letting the media and people with political agendas misinform them. vote for funes in 2009 and viva chalate!!!
El-Visitador said…
«You may want to consider the New York Times series of articles on gold mining»

You may want to consider the Anglo-Irish documentary Mine Your Own Business, which "looks at the dark side of environmentalism. It talks to some of the worlds poorest people about how western environmentalists are campaigning to keep them in poverty because they think their way of life is quaint. It is the first documentary to ask hard questions of the environmental movement." Endorsed by Mario Vargas Llosa, no less.

«a recent opinion poll shows a strong majority of Salvadorans in the potentially affected regions oppose mining»

Aw, shucks. A recent opinion poll also shows a strong majority of Salvadoreans believe oysters are aphrodisiacs. What can I tell you?

The laws we have allow for a modicum of public consultation, plus technical review from technicians who must be certified by MARN. Have these processes been fulfilled? Are we to waive laws anytime a group, in the heat of the moment, opposes development?

«you think El Salvador can put in place effective environmental regulations and a functioning civil tort system which would require compensation to victims of toxic environmental damages if such damages did occur?»

I doubt, alas!, that it can be done in short order. But legal processes are evolutionary and require societal learning and experimentation. I ask of you: will E.S. ever develop such norms and torts as they relate to mining, if there is no mining in El Salvador? How can you develop a mature legal framework for an industry, if you don't have that industry?

«how can the government of El Salvador assure that the feared consequences do not occur? »

You can't wish away risk: if you do, you become a paralized society. GOES could, however, ask as terms of the concession that the miner must purchase a liability insurance policy and that the insurer must have an A+ rating or somesuch. So that the concerned neighbors are protected by SwissRe or Lloyd's. (But isn't there already a requirement that the concesionnaires must put up a bond?)

«And no one is paying me»

Methinks it is rather naïve to think that bloggers such as us, with rather meagre readerships, could possibly be paid! It would be a terrible return on investment for those paying us, to be sure!

Until there are Salvadorean blogs with readerships in the tens of thousands, this is clearly a labor of love. And such days are clearly far, far away.

Anonymous said…
Ah, Salvadorean everything else revolving this small, paradoxic, quixotic either deeply love it and care for it, or you must just as well overlook it. Funny how such an insignificant country can have so much contrast within itself!!!
Anonymous said…
By the way, how many readers for this blog do you get on a daily basis Tim?
Tim said…
Around 600 between visitors to the blog, subscribers to the e-mail updates and RSS feeds
Anonymous said…
im consider my self enviromentalist, and i dont think is to keep them poor , i thought you wereel visitador smarter than that, but im starting to change my mind, mining is not the only way that el salvador can succed , there are so many things that has to change , and by the way im opposing to mining first of all because the workers in el salvador wouldn't recieved the salary that they deserve like i said an ounce of gold is $890 dollars and still they want to pay 12 dollars a week to a miner non sense , so tell me how el salvador is going to improve it self
Hodad said…
what can i say, they will leave or ??

yes and I echo Tim's comments on you anonymous's
at least some 'nom-de-plume' !!!
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Hodad said…
w/o name,
your comments have not much value

but then hey, hispanics and e mail and the WEB, a joke

as vistador even said, when there are millions, a difference can be wrought
otherwise, can it

what year did El Salvador put a man on the moon? yea right,

anonymous did as anonymous said, nada

anyway, gold miners have open invitation to go deep sea fishing with and my 6000 fishermen in Central America Viva El Frente
you are warned
leave now
cyanide, arsenic will not be tolerated especially introduced at any level above the sea
escpecially 1000 m.'s w/in 25 miles?

wake up 'sheeples'
do you have kids?
Anonymous said…
hi TIM! ,this is getting awkward, yes im a woman, and i found this site that tells some news about my country and say one's opinion, but some people is awkard in here and i dont think the things are going to change if someone said that because is anonymous has no meaning your opinion, you tell me who was the guy who envent the phone in first place? and so on but what ever i feel sorry for el salvador will see what happen in 2009. see ya until then
Anonymous said…

I dont know how much of these figures have changed, but three years ago it was only a proposed 148 jobs for only 8 years. Thats hardly prosperous.
Anonymous said…
Tim, I am still reading your blog. It is ridiculous to think anyone can pay you for this wealth of information in here.
Anything that is good for El Salvador is always a welcome news.
Anonymous said…
See this posting from Raul Guttierez on IPS. Most interesting quote is from Pacific Rim employee who says people can learn to assimilate cynaide in their bodies. Hmm, guess if they're lounging about in the hammocks waiting for mangoes to conk them on the head and kill'em off there ample time to assimilate
Anonymous said…
I am the anonymous, I think, that sparked this article from Tim. I have written only once and have read this site only a couple of times before. Tim, you are wrong about the local support. In my community where Pacific Rim will hopefully have it's operation, the support is high (polls show greater than 80%). The UCA poll is flawed because they didn't sample in Cabanas! As for the Catholic Church, I know the highest leaders of the Catholic Church of El Salvador were consulted about the project details. Unfortunately, they chose to repeat the anti-mining doom lies and not the mention the truth about the project! There are other religious groups that are highly supportive of this project in the area! And the group of people leading the mining opposition can be counted on two hands! The media gives them much more credit than they deserve. And by the way, these same people are against everything! Mining is just one of there causes! I have neibors that have been threatened by the fanatic followers of these people. It reminds me of the fanatic followers from the Middle East! Tim you should seek the truth in this matter and not listen to the lies! I will give myself a name, "LACommuter" and start reading your BLOG more often to monitor the situation.
Tim said…
LA Commuter:

I'm not sure the IUDOP poll did not include Cabanas. Here's the description of the IUDOP poll sample:
Encuestas válidas:

Aplicado en 24 municipios seleccionados por contar con licencia de exploración minera.
Polietápico por cuotas municipales, sexo y grupos de edad. Aleatorio en la selección de segmentos y hogares y dirigido en la selección de municipios y cantones. Siguiendo una distribución proporcional al tamaño de la población (PPT), establecida por segmentos geográficos.

Error muestral:
El error muestral estimado es de ± 0.0277 (dos punto setenta y siete por ciento),

Forma de realización:
Entrevista personal, mediante visita al hogar.

Fecha de realización:
Del 29 de septiembre al 10 de octubre de 2007

One would expect that Cabanas was included as one of the 24 municipalities where mining exploration permits have been issued. Can you share with us the polls to which you are referring and who conducted them?
Anonymous said…
Tim, I contacted the Alcade in San Isidro about the poll I mentioned. He says there was a door to door poll conducted late last year in the area under his control that resulted in greater than 90% in favor of the development of the mine! If you request it from him, he may be able to send you the details. I also asked about the UCA poll and he said that only people against the mine were polled in the San Isidro area. A sure way to prove your point, I am sure! LA Commuter
Anonymous said…
Tim I learned today that mining opposition groups are "paying" locals $175 per family to record a stance against mining. They are also giving away fertillizer and other needed goods and are asking for a name and NIT to secure this transaction.

The mining company, on the other hand, gave away donations to local community leaders, churches, NGO´s involved in local health issues, schools, small community infrastructure projects, etc. but at no time ever "paid" people off directly to get their support!

Where are the local mining opposition groups getting the money? I would bet from special interest groups like OXFAM who began an anti-mining campaign in El Salvador 2005!

This is not a grass-roots movement but a very well funded and managed attack directed by international interests!

They have formed an unholy, but convienient alliance with the FMLN and radical Catholic Church at the expense of truth and reason!

Friend of LA Commuter
Anonymous said…
To hodad26,
You've got to look at the big picture dude. What does arsenic have to do with mining? Most of the deposits where the mining companies want to work don't even have significant levels of arsenic or other heavy metals. If you want arsenic take your fishing buddies to Lake Ilopango and drink up. It might improve your attitude. Why don't you think they use the lake as a source of fresh water? The naturally ocurring arsenic. I don't think there has been a single mine on or near Lake Ilopango in recorded history. Who are you going to blame that problem on. Lets look at other "naturally" ocurring contamination/pollution. My understanding is that Volcan Santa Ana is still putting out between 50 -250 tones of sulfur dioxide per day. You gonna blame that on mining too? Why don't you get MARN/SNET to shut them down and pull their operating permit? One operating mine will have less environmental impact that your fishing buddies with their fleet of 2 stoke motors pumping oil and gas residues into the water. I'm sure that is not a concern.
Anonymous said…
I was just reading what the paper atributed to Saenz LaCalle and the use of cyanide in mining. He lost all credibility with me when he made the comment last week that he has a PhD in chemistry. So what! I have come to realize that PhD in some cases standes for smelly stuff Piled Higher and Deeper. Your average high school chemistry student could follow the chemical equation that shows how cyanide is destroyed in the Inco process used by a number of the mining companies that use cyanide. For him to say that cyanide cannot be neutralized is believable since the same group he belongs to burned heretics at the stake for claiming that the earth orbited the sun. I thought Jesuits were the thinkers and the rational element of the Catholic church. There must be some other agenda at work here.

Then I see today that he has the gall to get on mining companies for exporting gold when the Catholic church in collusion with the Spanish government enslaved the peopleof the american continents, stole the gold, and shipped it back to the old world to fill the coffers of the Crown, the Vatican and to fund the Inquisition. A little late for an attack of conscience don't you think?
Anonymous said…
In response to Alchemist...
Im not sure where you get your facts but they must be coming from ADES, Ceicom, or Mesa Frente a la Mineria who have a definite lack of credibility. The number of jobs was never 128. That is way below the number employed currently, just employed in the exploration phase of the project. The estimated number during construction should be in the neighborhood of 450+ and production should carry 250+ on the rolls. These are estimated numbers and will probably be higher according to my source in the company.

I had to chuckle at anonymous's $12 a week salary comment. What a hoot! Bus fare alone from San Isidro to the project would eat up half of that every week. Do you honestly think that people here are so naive as to believe that kind of hogwash? I know for a fact that PacRim has said that they will pay at least twice the minimum wage for entry level miners with no experience.

Consider the babysitting the company will have to do while that training takes place. One miner and one trainee. My mom used to say that one boy is half a man, two boys are half a boy and three boys are no boy at all. Figure that for those two, the miner and the trainee, you are paying two to three times the salary of the miner alone and getting half the production of two miners. Doesn't sound like good economics does it?Figure the training will take the better part of a year and it looks even worse.

By the way anonymous, mining and environmentalism are not mutually exclusive. PacRim plants over 5,000 trees per year in an effort to fight deforestation and makes gifts of these trees to whosoever can show willingness to care for them and help them prosper. The company has a recycling program and is educating their employees in how to make recycling an integral part of company operations and part of their personal lives. As well without any prompting on your part they are paying their folks to clean up the rivers around the project. nuff said!

The company, besides using very few hectares of land for the plant (less than 50) and no surface land for the mine, has to post an almost $5 million dollar (that's a 5 with 6 zeros) reclamation bond before starting work. This is money that will probably be written off as the government won't return even a $3500 reclamation bond for exploration work that was audited by MARN and shown to have been done to the highest standards.
Anonymous said…
I think that anything that comes out of the UCA, including the anti-mining poll is going to be biased to the direction taken by the Catholic church, for obvious reasons. I wouldn't have any confidence in anything that came out of a group like the Catholic church who will ally themselves with any group like ADES and CEICOM, leftist leaning un-godly communists, who then espouse violence as a means to gain their objectives.

Unfortunately it's just like the Montoneros and the Catholic church in Argentina. Why were Communists and the Catholic chuch in bed together there as well?

Obviously the Catholic church doesn't believe that democratic process should be followed, or in any separation of church and politics. Why doesn't the catholic church stay out of politics other than to make sure that their flocks get out and vote their consciences? What happened to worrying about the spiritual well being of their people instead of their political power base? You take the devil by the hand and he will pull you into his quagmire.
Anonymous said…
This writer from Wall Street Journal visited the town where the El Dorado Mine is located and talked to the Mayor. They are in complete favor of the mine since it will bring jobs.