Monday, July 07, 2008

How Pacific Rim has been treated

Following the announcement from Canadian gold-mining company Pacific Rim that it was suspending its efforts to develop a gold mine in El Salvador, the website MineWeb published an article with a long discussion with Pacific Rim's president, Tom Shrake:

Pacific Rim has put up with destruction of property, threats on the lives of its employees, and frightened witnesses who refuse to testify against the perpetrators. Ironically, the environmental quality of the project isn't a serious point of contention. An Inco process will oxidize and destroy any cyanide used in the operation. A water treatment plant will treat all water discharge from the operations. Water quality is so optimal at the site that a tailings pond can eventually safely serve as a reservoir for local communities. And, Shrake noted that there is no acid generation potential at El Dorado.

Shrake does not even suggest that El Salvador's Government is in any way corrupt or incompetent. Nevertheless, he asserted that rural people living outside urban areas have no political or even media clout. He cited as an example a recent protest by 500 rural El Salvadorans begging for help to save their jobs with Pacific Rim Mining. The event garnered little press or political attention.

In an article published last month, reporter Mary Anastasia O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal noted that during a February visit to the project, the company had spent a year designing the mine, "in a process that included more than 20 public meetings with the local community. It says that final design exceeds in international standards. The government of President Tony Saca acknowledges this by telling the company that there is no technical problem with the mine, only political ones." ...



"Pacific Rim and its predecessors have invested approximately $77 million on gold exploration and development in El Salvador with exceptional results," Shrake said in a news release Thursday. "We have provided the Government of El Salvador with an environmental study and mine design for El Dorado that exceeds both El Salvadoran and international standards and provides a very high environmental benchmark for future development."

"Our exploration team has unraveled the complex volcanic geology of the region resulting in discovery of several previously unknown epithermal gold systems. This exploration success has the potential to spawn a modern, clean mining industry in El Salvador that will create thousands of well-paying jobs alleviating the extreme poverty of the northern half of the country.

"We have built our ‘social license' and enjoy excellent local support in Cabanas and majority national support," Shrake asserted. "Pacific Rim entered El Salvador cautiously and prudently and was encouraged every step of the way by the highest levels of government. Unfortunately, the Government of El Salvador is now stalling the process without regard to the company's rights deriving from its substantial investment in the country."

"While we would vastly prefer the negotiated solution we seek, we are being forced to consider all options in order to pursue our rights under El Salvadoran law and international treaties, specifically CAFTA," Shrake said. "It saddens me to be forced to reduce our workforce and investment level in Cabanas, where local employment opportunities are almost non-existent. ...These are hard-working people that deserve this opportunity to work and feed their families."
Obviously Mr. Shrake has an enormous vested interest, and his comments must be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. But I am also very willing to admit that I am not an expert on gold mining and its environmental consequences. I am also pretty sure that many people who are speaking out against gold mining in El Salvador are also not experts on the latest technologies available for this mine. Who reading this blog knows what an "Inco process" is and whether it can "oxidize and destroy" cyanide?

This raises important questions about process and how decisions should be made. As I think about these issues, here are some questions with which to grapple:

1. Pacific Rim has apparently provided (I have not seen it) an environmental impact assessment which it believes shows that the environmental risks will be minimal. Shouldn't Pacific Rim be allowed a fair hearing on that environmental impact statement? If it has not been given that fair hearing, why not? If it has not had a fair hearing, what is the message which El Salvador is sending to those who might want to invest in the country in the future?

2. How do we define what is a fair hearing? How is the hearing also made fair to the citizens who may be impacted positively and negatively by the mining operations? Who should decide the final outcome of Pacific Rim's application? Environmental experts in El Salvador's Ministry of Natural Resources? The National Assembly? The winner of the 2009 elections? An international arbitration under CAFTA?

3. What does El Salvador have a right to request from Pacific Rim as a condition of permitting a gold mine for the extraction of the precious metal under the country's soil? What level of financial guaranty is required for cleaning up environmental consequences and the eventual closing of the mine? What level of tax levy should be imposed? What commitments should be required of Pacific Rim with respect to use of local contractors and investment in local infrastructure?

4. How does El Salvador balance economic development versus environmental risks? How do you balance a hundred or a thousand jobs in a country with desperate under-employment against the potential environmental contamination in a country where significant amounts of surface water are already polluted?

The end result may, or may not, be that gold mining, a non-sustainable extractive industry, is allowed in El Salvador. But the process needs to follow the rules, needs to be based on good science, and needs to consider the entire range of issues. If the process is not fair and transparent, El Salvador will be worse off, whatever the final decision.

21 comments:

chishi said...

"While we would vastly prefer the negotiated solution we seek, we are being forced to consider all options in order to pursue our rights under El Salvadoran law and international treaties, specifically CAFTA,"

I hope CAFTA does not apply to a Canadian Company and these are hollow threats. CAFTA was signed with the US not with Canada.

On the other hand, and as I said before, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE PARTNERS WITH THE COMPANY IF THERE IS NO SIGNIFICANT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE. Apparently the mine is deemed to be profitable enough for the canadian company to risk investing in it, and they should pay no mind in being a minority partners with the government for its profits. Ultimately the permits alone to operate should be worth the while for the PEOPLE OF EL SALVADOR. Govt should earn money this way.

But the way it is being handled by leftist movements and media is absolutely and shamefully ignorant.

But that is the spirit of the propaganda side of XXI century socialism, a la Chavez.

Regards

HODAD26 said...

very good they leave,
the offer to take any and all from Pacific Rim fishing, for free is still open

environmental concerns?!!
what? are you serious?

anyone not aware of what gold mining does to the environment is naive,ignorant or totally bought off
like this chishi among others, see the other blogs suggested a few posts ago
less CIA ignorant rants

HODAD26 said...

'Profile Not Available

The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile.'

where is yours chishi?

chishi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chishi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
El-Visitador said...

In El Salvador, like in many other places, the well-off elites have drunk the enviro-radical kool-aid. It is fashionable to be perceived as "green", even if their "greenness" is pointless or counterproductive. Or even if it runs slipshod over the hopes and ambitions of the less fortunate and the downtrodden.

The Minister of the Environment, for instance, opposed and killed this new clean mining industry. This same week, his MARN ministry was declared by the National Assembly as:

«delerict of its duty and utterly ignorant of the subject it oversees»


It was such improfessional men as this guy Carlos José Guerrero that killed a new hope for the people of Chalatenango before it was born.

HODAD26 said...

AS I SAID
you only speak, do nothing

chisi
and you are very irrelevant, you have no profile on google blog
so, basically YOU are nada
only words on the web
only shit to fill a 'blivette'

any time anyplace this 54 y.o surfer will kick your stupid ass
but I need to know where you live I guess scared of your own shadow which is your office cubicle wall at Langley

jaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

what a loser

no mas Tim, gracias pero estes personas son irrelevante

estaba un buena cosa
pero
es tiempo a trabajar
en El Salvador, para una futuro bueno y mejor para 'la gente'

those which without spoiled pieces of shit papi pagas like chisisas would have nada

good luck and GOD bless
Viva His Honorable Dalai Lama

HODAD26 said...

una mas cosa, chisisa boy
, put up, or shut up

you are obviuosly NOT for the salvador people
but against Guanacos
so,
want to go fishing?
as you contribute NADA
only bullshit

come on over, Pal
e-v is just old CIA fart,
maybe you some young buck, lets go surfing Zunzal at 10 meters.
or diving 4 kms from La Libertad at MY special place
jaaaaaaaaaa

and yes, I am enlightened,boyo

I was Invited down inside Templo Magico Uzmal, 1988, so
you know nada
so where you been in the world
I will find you, just to shut you up
I promise
must be a sone to be leaving El Salvador scared out of his pants Canadian Gold Miner
or as i said, a CIA flunky

and Myrtle Beach,what your condescending words, cocksucker
I am also a redneck
shark fisherman alligator hunter
at least,
better than Chicago, NY ,Florida, etc etc
or ANY day in California

Suchi-tu-toto said...

Brothers, can't we all just get along?

chishi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

Hey Chishi and Hodad -- the rest of us don't care about the insults you toss back and forth at each other. Drop it.

Febux said...

hey tim, i said that in the last blog, chishi likes to be fighting with people, check rojosrojos and you ll see that, but no ofense chishi it s just bad luck

Anonymous said...

To Chishi,

what you fail to understand is the long term impact on the inhabitants living around this mine, or maybe you're just here to look out for Pacific Rims interest which would explain your post. El Salvador does not have the capabilities of the United States, Canada or any highly developed country when it comes to environment Studies or what to do in case of an emergency.

You have to remember that El Salvador is always being hit by natural disasters by ways of Hurricanes AND Earth Quakes. This carries a higher probability of something going terribly wrong if there happens to be a leak of this chemicals into the rivers, the drinking water for the thousands of inhabitants that live near by would be poisoned, where can they replace this drinking water from? Will Pacific Rim provide it in case of something going terribly wrong? or do you think the government will?lol...Arena is currently against it because of the upcoming elections, they wont risk it even if it means they wont be "partners" with Pacific Rim. If it was to happen the Salvadorean people would hardly benefit from such deals, that's the Arena way, haven't you heard?
One last thing, please get your head out of the sand, XXI century Socialism, a la Chavez has nothing to do with this. It's kind of sad for you to view someone's else struggle for their well being and future as just "XXI century socialism, a la Chavez" What Chavez is doing can only be understood by those who have been denied their rights as HUMAN beings by companies like Pacific Rim...Salvadorans are waking up just like the rest of Latin Americans, the days of exploitation are coming to an end and you will find it extremely difficult to trade us shiny mirrors for our resources...so I say VIVA CHAVEZ!!!!

from a Salvadorean living abroad

Anonymous said...

Besides haven't you heard the news? Chavez aprueba la mineria. For how much is the propaganda going to continue?

About mining, the only way I'd allow mining in El Salvador, if it was international supervised operation, following the same quality standards that they follow in Canada and Sweden, causing not minimal environmental impact, but ZERO, that all the current jobs that they are hiring will be permanent, not just part of a temporal propaganda to garner support, that they mining project will last for a period of 5 years no more, and that after closure of the mine, the company and international monitors will monitor the mine area and make sure that there isn't a breach of anything for 10 years following closure, that the company will be by law obligated to reforest the entirety of the mine, that the workers of the mine will be taught and constantly "capacitados" not only in mining, but in other basic stuff like reading and writing, contribute heavily in the well-being of the nearby communities, heavily investing in proper housing, education centers, supporting and maintaining medical institutions, that the water of the area will be so pure that you could swim and drink of it without fear of growing a third-eye, that the water used to the mining operations won't make the population compete over it, that dynamite blasts will be sparse and of a low impact...


Yeah, I know nothing of mining, I just know that if such thing would ever to be allowed it should be heavily regulated and monitored, sadly, our government and elites don't freaking care about such things, just like these corporations they care only for profit, so I doubt we have the proper institutionalization to make sure this companies will make mining "sustainable" and without any hazard to the country. Fact is, that poor countries like El Salvador, were those comapnies can escape scott-free with murder, because laws aren't enforced properly and they have ease of movement around, that said companies love countries like this and invest heavily on being able to exploit the resources of countries that in the first place are incapable of exploiting those resources for their own. In any case, if one doesn't know anything of a subject there is nothing stopping you from getting yourself informed. Fact is, that the hazards of mining are renown, world-wide, from diamond mining, to gold mining, from Africa, to eastern Europe to America, that the mining companies are investing a lot on "technologies" to try to distance themselves from their destructive pasts, which may just be a lot of spin, because again, the poor institutions of developing countries are their greatest allies to help them escape without suffering consequences for things that would otherwise be banned in their "home countries".

Here, to help yourself get informed.
http://patagonia-under-siege.blogspot.com/2007/12/chile-is-best-mining-jurisdiction-in.html

Anonymous said...

Once again,I hear no accounting of the history of this company in their mines in other places. They're only judged by tragedies of other mines in the past and a bunch of hypotheticals that may or may not happen in the future.

Surely if this is a large international company they have left a footprint somewhere of how they would handle this operation. If they have a history of messing up the environment, then by all means run them out of town, or country. If they have a history of living up to what they promise, then let them proceed.

Rich people and rich companies not only make money, they hire people and pay them salaries. They're the only ones that do. Environmentalists and NGO's struggle on small budgets and hire only a handful of people, if any. There's just so far El Salvador is going to go letting NGO's drive her economy. The people in Chalatenango need jobs to provide for their families, not causes to demonstrate for.

Anonymous said...

Hey Hodad26 (Michael)

So Chishi doesn't have a profile up... I believe when you created yours you forgot to provide your name.

If you don't like this guys opinion, counter his arguments with information and facts. Frankly, your negativity and crazy rambling gets me down... dude.

anti-tonto said...

Interesting that this started out a post to see what could be said about the environmental aspects of what Pacific Rim would like to do in El Salvador and how they have been treated. If the majority of the people had the integrity to even look at what PacRim plans, before they shoot of their faces and show their ignorance they would see that this would truly be one of the most environmentally friendly projects in the country. PacRim knows that everyone would be looking over their shoulder and trying to invent problems. Do you honestly think they would take a chance on some kind of accident that would ruin their chances for other projects in other places? There is no way they would risk that. All of the principles in the company are people with long histories in the industry. One boo-boo and they are done forever. This is their personal integrity on the line. These are not your corrupt Cristiani's,D'Aubison's, Calderon Sol's, Saca's and that ilk. These people are internationally known for their integrity which can't be said for the politicos of El Salvador.

As well you can bet anonymous, that the canadian govt would have something to say if PacRim didn't live up to the Canadian standards for protection of the environment. There would most likely be criminal charges as in the BreEx fiasco

In answer to Tim's question about INCO; INCO is a process to oxidize cyanide. Using a reagent normally used as a preservative in foodstuffs cyanide is changed to cyanate ehich is basically nontoxic. That blows the concern for stuff leaking into rivers out the window. Before the tails ever make it to the dam, the cyanide is at levels allowed in most drinking water standards internationally. If anonymous is worried about the integrity of the tailings dam don't you think you should be worried about the dams on the Lempa that had corrupt bastards in charge of construction skimming as much off the top and cutting corners to line their own pockets? This is assuming that everybody in El Salvador is corrupt, which is the same brush mining is being painted with. I haven't heard of a problem with any of the dams on the Lempa. The people of El Salvador shouldn't think that all the people of the world are like the Guerreros, willing to give themselves environmental permits to build "Inmeubles SA de CV" while they hide behind a front. Some people have integrity and their word means something.

Here comes the other problem. You have jackasses making comments about mining that know absolutely nothing about the subject and aren't willing to learn. Then you have hypocrites like OXFAM who fund ecoterrorists and then have the gall to say they are not against mining. I say, open your books Oxfam and prove you are not funding ADES and Mesa Frente a la Mineria and Francisco Pineda, Antonio Pacheco and David Perreira to incite violence and fear where none is deserved.

I think it is sad that El Salvador has lost the chance to see how a project should be run that they could then use as a benchmark against which all others could be held. It would improve the breed. With no companies like PacRim there never will be the capability or the need to have the capability. El Salvador will muddle along in its mediocrity. PacRim offered to fund the training of technicians of the MARN so that they would be up to date with the rest of the world. You know, like send them to Europe and such for training. They were turned down cold. I think they were afraid that they would be seen as the backward ingnorant drones that they are. Who in their right mind would turn down the chance for free training. Nobody with half a clue, thats for sure.

Anonymous said...

"Then you have hypocrites like OXFAM who fund ecoterrorists and then have the gall to say they are not against mining. I say, open your books Oxfam and prove you are not funding ADES and Mesa Frente a la Mineria and Francisco Pineda, Antonio Pacheco and David Perreira to incite violence and fear where none is deserved."

Hmm, Oxfam is a pretty main stream NGO, so to accuse them of funding "eco-terroists" is absurd. Using the post 9-11 rhetoric of the war on terrorism and eco-terrorism is truly opportunistic and disgusting.

Quentin said...

More importantly, how dare you call ADES, la Mesa Frente a la Mineria, Francisco Pineda, Antonio Pacheco and David Pereira eco-terrorist inciting violence. I would LOVE for you to provide some evidence of that.

Asking for P-Rim to provide an actual environmental study, instead of their 2005 mockery which independent auditor Dr. Robert Moran called unacceptable in any first-world nation and missing all the important water information. And if you want to know about the environmental viability of mining in Northern El Salvador, go to any of the communities in Cabanas who have already had their natural water sources dried up as a direct result of EXPLORATION. This is in an area of the country where water is already incredibly scarce and now over 20 once consistent sources of ground water are gone...in the middle of the rainy season. There is your envrionmental impact assessment, EXPERIENCE. Anytime in world history where industrial gold mining has been attempted around human populations the results have been catastrophic, almost always resulting in mass migration of communities. You tell me where these communities are going to move to in El Salvador (a country referred to by Galeano as "el homiguero de america latina").

Neither Pacific Rim nor the government have EVER consulted the inhabitants of the Northern Zone on whether or not they would like to have gold mining or not. In fact, the only opinion polling that has been done was the IUDOP study published in 2007 which found that only 19% of those living in the Northern Zone thought El Salvador to be an appropriate country for mining.

ADES, la Mesa Nacional and the others you mentioned have only taken up the role of informing their fellow citizens of all the information that the companies and government do not provide them. Meanwhile P-Rim hides in the shadows, avoiding all invitations to public debates with any of these so-called eco-terrorists, funding an "anonymous" ad campaign which seeks to obscure the debate, paying off mayors, police, military, and local elites...etc...

Oh, and if you think that the Canadian government will enforce environmental guidelines on P-Rim, you are really out to lunch. That is like saying that the US government is gonna put the reins on Exxon. Canadian extractive industries have caused some of the worst human rights disasters of the modern era. This includes the Darfur conflict (Talisman Energy), Genocide of the Karen tribes of Burma (Ivanhoe Mines), armed slaughter in the Congo (Anvil Mining), Marcopper Mine catastrophe in teh Phillipines (Placer Dome), and ON and on and on.

The only reason BreX was tried was because the BreX scandal was FINANCIAL! It harmed the bottom line of major Canadian investment banking institutions...Canada has NEVER punished a canadian company for crimes comitted against human beings or ecosystems abroad.

I beg of all readers of this to do their own research and not listen to these well-spoken mining employees as they corrupt our mental environment. And also, to always remember, that it is not our right to decide for Northern El Salvador whether or not they get gold mines...it is THEIR RIGHT to have all the information about gold mining at their disposal and for THEM to decide whether ornot they want mining.

Quentin said...

Oh, and in response to this little piece of wisdom:

"Surely if this is a large international company they have left a footprint somewhere of how they would handle this operation. If they have a history of messing up the environment, then by all means run them out of town, or country. If they have a history of living up to what they promise, then let them proceed."

Pacific Rim is not a large international company, El Dorado was planned to be the very first mine they would put into operation. So your argument then is that El Salvador should let them try out their new gig here first? Would you volunteer to be a new dentist's first patient? What if the procedure could kill you? There has never been a "green mining" situation ever. There has only been mines situated far enough from humans so that its effects are not recorded/felt. As we all know, a country packing 6+ million people into the size of Massechussettes will not be able to avoid the catastrophe that mining will bring.

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian and a Salvadorean, I can say that it disappoints me that El Salvador would agree to this, and that a Canadian company would look to such a populated country for its first major mining project outside North America.

Their shares trade at pennies (0.23 last time I checked), and if you look at their financial history on yahoo, google, or wherever you read it, you'll notice that their income has substantially decreased over the past three years.

The company has few sources of income, it's losing money, and it has a CEO who gets paid handsomely...hmmm... sounds like they're not just after the mine but after money.

And I do believe CAFTA was only signed with the US. Interesting story.