SAN SALVADOR – President Mauricio Funes’ leftist FMLN party is urging El Salvador’s legislature to ban the mining of precious metals in the Central American nation.
“With this we guarantee the right of people to live in their place of origin in a healthy environment,” FMLN lawmaker Lourdes Palacios, the bill’s sponsor, told Efe Wednesday.
Complaints about the contamination of soil and water with toxic chemicals used in extracting and refining gold and silver are widespread in Central America.
The FMLN proposal would give mining companies active in El Salvador six months to wind down their operations. It will be up to the National Assembly’s Health, Environment and Natural Resources Committee to decide whether the measure makes it to the floor for a vote.
Officials say that a score of foreign companies currently have concessions to mine metals in El Salvador. One of the firms, Canadian-based Pacific Rim, is reported by the press here to have initiated arbitration proceedings against the Salvadoran government for refuse to issue permits for specific projects.
Palacios said she was not familiar with Pacific Rim’s claim and that the FMLN is committed to “the protection of national sovereignty and people’s health.”
The lawmaker said she supported the idea put forward by environmental organizations to embark on a process of “study and analysis” as preparation for the drafting of a new mining law.
Funes’ victory in the March election ended 20 years of rule here by the right-wing ARENA party, but the FMLN does not have a majority in congress. EFE