International Coalition Supports El Salvador in Battle Against Canadian Mining Company

Washington DC – More than 300 civil society organizations with millions of members are supporting El Salvador in its legal battle with Canadian mining company Pacific Rim at the World Bank. Labor, environmental and grassroots groups from Canada, the U.S. and El Salvador will submit a letter to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on April 10 demanding a review of the lawsuit against El Salvador.

Pacific Rim is demanding $301 million in compensation from El Salvador unless the government reconsiders its ban on mining. Pacific Rim sued El Salvador after a 2009 announcement by the Salvadoran government that it would not issue metal mining permits due to the risk it poses to the safety of water supplies. According to the World Bank, 90 percent of the surface water is heavily contaminated and 20 percent of its rural population lacks safe drinking water. Pacific Rim is using the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Disputes (ICSID) to challenge the moratorium on mining.

“Pacific Rim is using ICSID to subvert a democratic nationwide debate over mining and environmental health in El Salvador,” the letter said. “When it comes to such issues, local democratic institutions should prevail, not foreign corporations seeking to exploit natural resources.”

Polling data shows that a majority of Salvadorans (62 percent) support a permanent ban on metal mining.

“The case against El Salvador is one of many cases that demonstrate the extent to which investor state arbitration broadly found in investment agreements undermine local democracy,” said Pedro Cabezas coordinator of the International Allies against Metal Mining – the coalition of NGOs that is spearheading the letter campaign. “It’s time for the World Bank to cut its ties to ICSID and stop promoting this investment model.”

The World Bank is hosting its biannual meeting in Washington, D.C. this week. Pacific Rim is scheduled to submit its arguments to the ICSID tribunal on April 11, 2014.

The letter will be delivered through actions taking place simultaneously in Washington DC, San Salvador, Vancouver and Toronto. The letter, and all its signatories, can be read on the International Allies Against Mining in El Salvador’s website.

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