Period for negotiations ends in case of Industrias Infinito

Infinito Gold Ltd. served notice on Costa Rica last April 4. So the company issued a reminder over the weekend that the six-month period stipulated for conciliation in a trade treaty between Canada and Costa Rica has expired.

Apparently the central government has not responded at all to the issue raised by the Canadian firm that owns the local Industrias Infinito S.A.

This is the case that involved the proposed open pit gold mine at Crucitas in northern Costa Rica.

April 4 the company president, John Morgan, issued a statement noting that the company has served notice that it considers Costa Rica to be in breach of the trade treaty because a series of conflicting court rulings ended with the annulment of the concession to mine gold.

The case was the subject of lengthy protests by students and environmental activists.

Morgan’s statement outlined the conflicting views of Costa Rica politicians and the courts. For example, then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez issued a decree saying that the open pit gold mining project was in the national interest. And the Sala IV constitutional court ruled in April 2010 that all the objections raised against the company were without merit.

But the following November, a lower court, the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, voted to annul the concession, and this was upheld by the Sala I of the same Corte Suprema de Justicia.

When it goes to the World Court’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, the company has told government officials that it will seek slightly more than $1 billion.

This will be a problem for the new central government administration because President Laura Chinchilla Miranda leaves office May 8, as does Rene Castro, the environment minister.

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