Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Costa Rica halts Canadian firm's gold mine work

San Jose, Costa Rica, (Reuters) - The Costa Rican Supreme court ordered a small Canadian mining company to halt construction at an open-pit gold mine on Tuesday, ruling with environmental groups who say the project is destroying virgin forest.

Infinito Gold Ltd. said the court ordered the company to stop clearing land at the Crucitas gold mine near the forested border with Nicaragua while it considered complaints brought by environmentalists.

The Canadian miner began last week cutting down trees to build a pit and tailings dam but has now stopped work until the court makes another ruling. The court has not set a date for a final decision in the case.

The miner will have to cut down 208 hectares (514 acres) to move ahead with the project, most forest that has never been touched, Edgardo Araya, the lawyer who filed the complaint on behalf of two local environmental organizations, said.

About half of the lush Central American country is covered with rainforest, much protected as national parks. Scarlet macaws, endangered parrots, and sloths thrive in Costa Rica's jungles, a big draw for eco-tourists whose business is the country's number one source of foreign exchange revenue.

Laws prevent changing the use of forest land for commercial purposes but President Oscar Arias declared the Crucitas project of national interest, giving Infinito the go-ahead to begin clear cutting.

Crucitas has an indicated resource of 1.2 million ounces of gold the company says on its Web site, adding that it will replant trees around the mining area.

(Reporting by John McPhaul; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

No comments:

Related posts