Las Crucitas mine is topic of roundtable

Opponents of the Las Crucitas open pit gold mine will meet Thursday to discuss whether the government should enter into arbitration with the firm that was developing the project.

Those who will outline the situation include Nicolás Boeglin, an international rights professor on the University of Costa Rica law faculty, and José María Villalta, the legislative deputy.

Also scheduled are Álvaro Sagot, a lawyer who participated in the legal action that led to the annulment of the company’s concession, and Edgardo Araya, a legislative deputy-elect.

The developer of the mine, Infinito Gold Inc., and its Costa Rican subsidiary, Industrias Infinito S.A., are taking the case to the World Court’s arbitration arm.  At one time the firm threatened to seek $1 billion in reparations, but the demand has been reduced substantially.

The firm seeks to arbitrate the claim because its concession was canceled after 12 years of trying to get the mine started near Cutris de San Carlos. The company seeks to invoke the free trade agreement between Canada and Costa Rica. The parent firm is based in Calgary.

The case is being watched closely in the investment community.

Opponents were mostly environmentalists, students and some lawmakers. They now say that the company does not have a right to arbitration because the case has been litigated and decided in a Costa Rican court. The arbitration panel eventually will decide this point to determine if it has jurisdiction. Costa Rica also is being urged to seek payment for what are said to be environmental damages by the company.

The meeting Thursday will be in the auditorium of the university’s Facultad de Ciencias Sociales at 6 p.m.

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