Local community organizations opposed to mining and Pacific Rim, a Canadian gold mining company, are scheduled to meet soon. According to a Pacific Rim press release, the meeting will be facilitated by the office of El Salvador's human rights ombudsman:
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 02/21/07 -- A meeting scheduled for mid-February 2007 between Pacific Rim Mining Corp. ("Pacific Rim" or the "Company") (TSX: PMU)(AMEX: PMU), local community representatives, and two El Salvadoran Non-Governmental Organizations ("NGOs") responsible for organizing anti-mining protests at the Company's Santa Rita gold project in El Salvador in late 2006 is being rescheduled and moved to San Salvador from the local city of Sensuntepeque. Pacific Rim strongly supports these changes and is eager to continue to participate openly and in good faith.
The forthcoming meeting will be mediated by the San Salvador-based executive directorate of Procuraduria de Derechos Humanos. This independent El Salvador human rights organization moderated the first meeting between these groups in December 2006, which was called after anti-mining protests, staged on the Company's Santa Rita property by El Salvadoran NGOs using agitators primarily from outside the local communities, took on a more violent tone. At this initial meeting, Pacific Rim voluntarily committed to temporarily suspend its Phase 1 drilling program at the Santa Rita project as sign of goodwill aimed at resolving the concerns of the NGOs through open and productive dialogue. The Company will continue to honor its commitment to postpone the Santa Rita exploration drilling program, so long as productive discussions with the NGOs and local stakeholders concerning the technical and environmental details of its drilling program continue.
"The Santa Rita project represents an excellent exploration opportunity for Pacific Rim," states Tom Shrake, President and CEO. "Santa Rita also presents us with an opportunity to address in good faith the concerns of all stakeholders so that we can resume our legal rights as granted by the laws of El Salvador to conduct exploration work on the Santa Rita project, where the vast majority of the local residents are in favor of our project. We are deeply committed to a non-violent process of reconciling the concerns expressed by the NGOs with our social and environmental best practices. In the meantime, we will continue our successful exploration initiatives at the El Dorado gold project, where a number of new high grade gold discoveries were recently made, including the highly prospective Balsamo vein, and elsewhere in El Salvador where we are exploring for new high grade, environmentally clean gold systems similar to El Dorado."
You can read Pacific Rim's view of how it has addressed environemental concerns here. A technical review from Mining Watch, which is critical of the Pacific Rim environmental impact statement for its El Dorado mine, can be found here. The August 2006 statement of the PDDH [in Spanish] regarding the necessity of balancing mineral extraction activities in the country with human rights and the protection of the environment can be found here. Without commenting on the merits of the dispute, I think the fact that the parties are engaged in dialogue is a good thing.