Mine protesters plan to rally as court gives Crucitas verdict

The much-awaited court decision on the Las Crucitas open pit gold mine is scheduled for today, but regardless of the way the decision goes, more litigation is likely.

The case is in the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, and the issue is whether the permits for the project were issued correctly by the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental. The three-judge panel has spent more than a month hearing testimony from opponents and also government officials. There were 29 witnesses.

The decision is expected at 4 p.m., and environmental activists have called on their supporters to rally at the court location in Calle Blancos at 3 p.m. to demonstrate against the mine.

Industrias Infinito S.A. has been working more than 10 years to develop the project. The Sala IV constitutional court decided in April that the challenges raised against the grant of permits that allowed development of the company’s project were without merit, with one exception that was considered to have been cured by the date of the vote.

April 17, the day after the vote, groups opposed to the Crucitas project obtained an injunction from the Tribunal Contenscioso Administrativo that prohibits further
development of the Crucitas Project. The main litigant is the Asociación Preservacionista de Flora y Fauna. Defendants are the state, as well as the company.

Hearing the case were judges Eduardo González Segura, David Fallas Redondo and Grace Loaiza Sánchez. They are not expected to release the full decision, just the vote. The full decision will be available sometime in December.

In addition to the exploitation permit on the 1,200 hectares associated with the Crucitas project, the company holds 15 times this amount of ground, or 18,000 hectares in exploration concessions adjacent to the Crucitas concession.

Gold has skyrocketed since the project began.

Environmental activists are outraged that the company will have to cut down protected trees to development the mine. They have been pressuring President Laura Chinchilla Miranda to rescind a decree issued by Óscar Arias Sánchez that expedited the development work.

She said she opposes open pit mines, but Casa Presidencial said that if the government pulls the permits the company would wage a successful fight with international arbitration.

Opponents have waged an aggressive public relations campaign including hunger strikes and a march to the mine from Casa Presdencial.

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