Feb. 21, 2017 – Today, 280 organizations based in five continents sent a statement to the CEO and Board of Canadian-Australian company OceanaGold demanding that it leave El Salvador and pay US$8 million to that government, as demanded by an investor-state tribunal in October. OceanaGold persisted with an outrageous suit against El Salvador, launched by its predecessor Pacific Rim Mining in 2009.
The suit exposed the extreme pro-corporate bias of investment protection clauses in current free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA. Over seven years, El Salvador paid out over US$13 million in legal costs and fees, and the process cast a chilling effect on public policymaking in the country over a possible ban on metals mining.
The widely supported statement released today recalls that, in October 2016, an arbitration panel at the World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) rejected the company’s claim, given that the company never complied with mining regulations to obtain a permit, and ordered OceanaGold to pay $8 million to the Central American nation. The statement expresses outrage that OceanaGold has yet to pay up and is still trying to make headway in El Salvador, despite broad opposition to its presence.
The more than 280 organisations that signed the statement range from the National Roundtable on Metallic Mining in El Salvador to the International Trade Union Confederation, the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO and the Canadian Labour Congress (which collectively have over 180 million members), to a wide range of other religious, labor, environmental, anti-poverty, and research groups in El Salvador, the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, the Philippines, and several other countries.