Costa Rican court sets date for gold mine dispute hearing

October 23, 2009

A one-day hearing for the controversial open-pit gold mine project in Las Crucitas near the Nicaraguan border is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Costa Rica´s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), court press officials confirmed Tuesday.

Supreme Court justices will hear from Industrias Infinito S.A, a subsidiary of the Canadian company that proposed the mine, and from those who oppose the project.

Judges will analyze legal aspects of the government permits that have been issued for the mine´s construction and operation.

In 2005, the National Technical Secretariat of the Environment Ministry (SETENA) issued an environmental viability permit allowing the company to clear 126 hectares of trees in order to build the mine and accompanying facilities. That area was reduced to 50 hectares in February of 2008.  

Opposing parties argued whether cutting down the trees violated article 50 of the Costa Rican constitution, which ensures a “healthy and ecologically balanced environment ” for the nation´s citizens. The Supreme Courted halted all activity at the mine in Las Crucitas on Oct. 20, 2008.

The project, partially constructed, has been in limbo ever since.

Officials said a decision regarding the legal and constitutional viability of the mine is the next step after the hearing. Judges do not have a deadline to reach their decision.

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