Gold mining firm lays off the bulk of its workers

Industrias Infinito S.A. has laid off nearly its entire workforce, the gold mining firm said Thursday.

The company said the layoff of more than 200 persons was because of a Sala I vote that upheld a lower court’s annulment of the company’s concession.

The firm sought to operate the Crucitas open pit gold mine in Cutris de San Carlos not far from the international border with Nicaragua. The firm estimates that there are a million ounces of gold in the rock. The project has been controversial and strongly opposed by student activists and environmentalists.

The company noted that those laid off were Costa Ricans and mostly residents of the area. Many already had been suspended due to the prolonged legal process and a stop-work order that a court issued.

The company said that the fired workers would receive the benefits outlined in legislation. Depending on the worker and the time at the company, that could mean several months pay.

The Óscar Arias administration backed the gold mine as a way for bringing development to the rural area, at least for the estimated 20-year life of the mine. That view is not shared by President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, who was vice president under Arias.

The firm is a subsidiary of a Calgary, Canada firm, and it has endured a long legal battle. The firm said that it may seek international arbitration to compensate it and its stockholders for the financial loss because the mine never was opened. Costa Rican officials have tried to minimize estimates of financial exposure, but some of the gold mine companies are pushing for billions in compensation.

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