Crucita gold mine project gets another rejection in court

The Sala Primera rejected yet another appeal by Industrias Infinito, the Poder Judicial said Wednesday.

This is the company that has a concession to mine 800,000 ounces of gold near the Nicaraguan boarder in Cutris.

The company asked the Sala Primera to reconsider its rejection of its appeal of a lower court decision. The Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo found against the company and ordered that its concession be annulled. The Sala Primera upheld that decision earlier.

The new appeal basically sought reconsideration, but the court said there were no grounds for doing so.

Infinito, the subsidiary of a Canadian mining firm, is doing the legal work that is required before bringing the case to international arbitration where it stands a good chance of winning.

Former president Óscar Arias Sánchez was a strong supporter of the company and even issued a decree that said the project was in the interest of the country. To mine the gold, the company began cutting down some protected trees. Environmentalists were outraged.
The Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo not only found against the company but suggested that prosecutors examine the role that Arias played.

To dig a pit to extract gold, workers would have had to cut down trees, including the protected mountain almond tree (almendro amarillo in Spanish with the Latin name Dipteryx panamensis).

The Arias decree specifically permitted cutting such trees, but prosecutors had opened a criminal case to see if the president himself and other officials violated the law.

The court suggested they do so again, saying there was no basis for the action Arias took.

The lower court in November 2010 also said it was ordering Infinito to pay damages for environmental damage. The company said later that it had planted 300 trees for each tree it had to cut. The great green macaw nests in the mountain almond trees. The bird is called lapa verde in Spanish, and they are endangered.

If an international arbitration panel makes an award to Infinito and its parent firm the financial repercussions in Costa Rica could be enormous. The price of gold has skyrocketed since Infinito got the concession.

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