Canadian gold firm exhausts its legal remedies here over mine

The gold mining firm Industrias Infinito S.A. appears to have exhausted its legal remedies in Costa Rica. The Sala IV constitutional court has ruled that it would not consider an appeal by a ruling against the firm by the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo,

The court basically sidestepped the issue and said that the legal questions raised by the firm had been decided by a ruling in the Sala Primera. The constitutional court appeal has been pending since 2011 when the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo ruled that the concession under which the firm was to develop an open pit gold mine was defective.

Infinito, the subsidiary of a Canadian gold firm, sought to extract about 800,000 ounces of gold. While the project was being developed and legal challenges confronted, the price of gold soared. Infinito once won a victory in the constitutional court, but then the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo inserted itself into the proceedings and even suggested legal action against former president Óscar Arias Sánchez because he had endorsed the project and declared it in the national interest.

Environmentalists brought the action as a way to halt the mine, which they saw as a potential source of pollution with the open pit leaching activity. They also were unhappy that the firm would have to cut some trees to dig the pit.

The court decision, which was released Wednesday afternoon, actually is good news for the company because by exhausting its legal remedies here it can head to international arbitration.

The company plans to arbitrate the case with the World Bank’s organization designed for that purpose. The firm said it will seek more than $1 billion in expenses and lost profits. At issue is the sanctity of contracts in Costa Rica.

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