Protest Thursday against plans to reopen Bellavista mine

Thursday will see another protest by anti-mining activists. This time the principal target is the Secretaria Tecnica National Ambiental and the reborn Bellavista mine in Montes de Oro near the town of Miramar east of Puntarenas.

The protest will be at the environmental watchdog’s office in Barrio Escalante at 7:30 a.m. The organizer is Ni Una Sola Mina, the group that has battled the Crucitas mine recently.

The protest is triggered because the operator of the closed mining operation seeks to reopen it, said the organization.

Heavy rains caused the soil on which refining operations at the mine rested to move, and key elements of the mining process slid downhill. Mining operations there started in April 2005, and operator Glencairn Gold Corp. ended them in August 2007 due to ground movement. The landslide happened the next October. Gold has soared in value since the closing.

The mine concession now is held by a firm called B2Gold, which said that it and Glencairn have conducted an extensive monitoring program and site reclamation. The firm said that the Secretaria Tecnica National Ambiental conducted audits of the site that show the soil has remained stable and that there has been no contamination of surface or groundwater.

B2Gold said it had planted 1,000 trees on the mine site to control runoff.

The company said that the Bellavista property has proven and probable reserves of 314,000 ounces, and measured and indicated resources of 421,000 ounces.

B2Gold said it is investigating various alternatives relating to the Bellavista property, including the potential for re-opening the mine using different technologies. Glencairn used a heap leach operation that involved leaching the gold from rock with cyanide.

Since the Belevista mine was closed, the legislature passed a law forbidding open pit mines in Costa Rica and restricting other types of gold mining. The Glencairn concession, now in the hands of B2Gold predates that law.

Ni Una Sola Mina said that B2Gold has plans to build a 7-kilometer (4.4-mile) water line to Agua Buena.

The current mining site is adjacent to the Río Ciruelas that flows into the Gulf of Nicoya.

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