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Mining: a tale of two countries

Monday, April 8, 2013

Is it a high-tech resource sector, with a commitment to sharing wealth and to restoring any property to its original condition?

Is does it consist of a bunch of greedy, irresponsible bullies?

The answer depends on where you live.

Guatemala last week gave the green light to two mining companies. Russia’s Solway Group will exploit nickel resources, while Canadian-based Tahoe Resources will mine silver.

On almost the same day, Toronto-based Infinito Gold announced that it was suiing the Costa Rican state for $1 billion, following the suspension of its mining operations.

The rest of the region is likewise divided.

El Salvador, like Costa Rica, has suspended all mining operations, while the other countries accept them.

In theory, mining can be responsible. Good mines use safe, modern equipment, employ skilled personnel, and restore mining sites, when they finish operations.

In Central America, however, several bad experiences have turned many people against the industry.

For its part, the industry has in many cases failed to make an effective case, as to how the public can benefit from its operations.