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Region: these mines aren’t mine

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The price of metals and minerals has risen in recent years, along with investments in mining throughout most of the Americas.

But mineral-rich Central America is in many cases an important exception, in the face of a tangle of red tape, on one hand, and of a combination of protests from environmentalistse’, on the other.

Nor has there been much support for resource projects among other Central Americans, many of whom believe that politicians and bureaucrats will end up siphoning off most of the royalties, which the region gets from mining businesses.

Some resource projects in the region are moving ahead, including two big Panamanian operations - a copper mine, jointly owned by Canada’s Inmet Mining Corporation and Korea’s Nikko, and a gold mine, owned by Petaquilla Minerals, another Canadian company.
Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, for its part, has tended to support resource projects.

On the other hand, recent protests by the indigenous Ngobe Bugle people have halted, at least temporarily, the proposed Cerro copper mine in northern Panama.

Other high-profile projects, which have been paralyzed, include El Salvador’s El Dorado gold project, owned by Canada's Pacific Rim, and the Crucitas gold mine in Costa Rica, a property of Canada's Infiniti Resources.

In Guatemala, opponents of resource exploitation have asked the country’s constitutional court to halt mining operations, which fail to consult local communities.

Red tape is the enemy of mining in Honduras, where more than 150 companies are awaiting permits, in order to exploit metal reserves, which include iron, lead and zinc.