Acid rain in El Salvador?

The protest was held by the “I Reject Metal Mining” campaign launched
by members of organisations opposed to the granting of mining
concessions because of the threats to water resources and public
health. Pacific Rim hopes to start mining for gold and silver at the
El Dorado mine in the village of San Isidro in the department
(province) of Cabañas, about 65 kilometres from San Salvador, once it
obtains the necessary permits from the government.

A black coffin was
consigned to the flames amid music and fireworks as dozens of people
from Salvadoran communities that fear the impacts of gold and silver
mining celebrated a “symbolic burial” of the Pacific Rim Mining
Corporation, a Canadian-based company. “We want the El Dorado mine to
close,” said 21-year-old Juan Carlos Moreno, who took part in the Dec.
5 demonstration held in downtown El Salvador. The company acquired the
property, an area of 144 square kilometres, in 2002 when it merged
with the Dayton Mining Corporation. Since then, it has been granted
exploration licenses. Twenty-four mining projects with exploration
licenses in El Salvador are waiting for a mining law, currently being
discussed in parliament, to come into force. The law would give the
go-ahead to exploit concessions, which are currently suspended. The
draft law, introduced by the right-wing National Conciliation Party
(PCN), is intended to provide mining with three pillars: “a clear
regulatory framework, a monitoring body to enforce the law, and a
classification of companies that comply with international standards,”
said PCN lawmaker Orlando Arévalo. But in the view of the left-wing
opposition, the initiative would create an autonomous authority in
charge of granting concessions, taking over that power from the
ministries, and without requiring environmental impact studies.
Environmentalists warn that if the door is opened to the mining
industry, El Salvador will suffer severe social and environmental
impacts from acid drainage, water pollution, and evaporation of
cyanide, used in the leaching process to separate gold and silver from
rock. Mining would also exacerbate water shortages in a number of
areas, scientists say. The most severe impact would be caused by
cyanide evaporation, which occurs at 26 degrees Celsius; afterwards,
rainfall would spread it far and wide, not only in the mining areas
but in a sizeable part of the Central American region, depending on
wind speeds, said Florian Erzinger, an environmental chemist who
specialises in aquatic systems at the Federal Institute of Technology
(ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland.

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

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