Metals mining and sustainable development in Central America (Report)

2008 Oxfam report by Thomas M. Power, assessing the benefits and costs of metals mining, paying  special attention to Pacific Rim’s El Dorado Mine in El Salvador, Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine in Guatemala and Goldcorp’s San Martin Mine in Honduras. This report goes a long way towards disputing the myth of mega-extractive projects as ‘development’.

[From the report:]

Despite its long history in Central America, mining has never played a significant role in the economies of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Even if all the resources of these nations were developed, revenue from minerals would amount to only a small fraction of their broadly diversified economies.

What the mining industry could contribute to these countries must be balanced with the full scope of its costs. From a financial perspective, mining has some drawbacks:

  • Minerals commodity markets are highly volatile, characterized by boom and bust cycles;
  • Modern open-pit mining creates relatively few jobs—especially for those without very technical skills; and
  • The life cycles of open-pit mines are short, offering a small window of opportunity for integration with local economies.

Meanwhile, large-scale open-pit mining poses environmental risks ranging from acid mine drainage to tailings dam leaks. Although some of the worst environmental outcomes are preventable, mining companies often ignore environmental rules—or circumvent them in nations with relatively high standards, such as the US.

Indeed, it is very possible that communities closest to a mining project will suffer—unless they have a voice in decisions for the project. For communities to be relevant in this process, they must be able to reject mining projects that are sufficiently detrimental to their welfare and development.

The current debate surrounding mining in the region, especially in El Salvador, reveals a dangerous misunderstanding of the potential costs and benefits of aggressive development. The World Bank and other institutions have conducted research that indicates that resource development often has a minimal impact on poverty alleviation efforts. Mining communities throughout the world know first-hand that those closest to mining development get hit the hardest… Read the full report on Oxfam’s website

This entry was posted in Community Resistance, Conflict and Repression, Environment and Health, Goldcorp, Local and Indigenous Rights, Pacific Rim, Property and Livelihoods, Social Costs, Private Profit and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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