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News Release

IUCN Assembly Opposes Mining In Central America

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION OF THE IUCN, BARCELONA, SPAIN

CGR4.MOT141 Exploration and exploitation of open-cast mining activities in Mesoamerica

(UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION)

WHEREAS there are decisions to invest in the exploitation of metallic minerals in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that will affect thousands of hectares of primary forests, key watersheds in the area, and marine coastal areas rich in biodiversity, and thus human health and food security for the population;

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that the Mesoamerican region is considered one of the regions globally renowned for its high biodiversity or “hot spot”;

NOTING that there has been an increase in approvals in the region for exploration and open-pit mining;

WHEREAS the preservation of these areas is the basis for the conservation of biological corridors and the survival of endemic species of fauna and flora, and are highly fragile ecosystems;

WHEREAS in the countries of the Mesoamerican region the institutional and legal framework that would ensure control, monitoring, and regulation of mining activity is weak;

WHEREAS the mechanisms of public consultation and environmental impact studies are equally poor and limit the broad and objective participation of the population;

WHEREAS experiences in tropical countries around the world has been highly negative, and that in particular the high rainfall in most parts of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor fosters great risks to the environment in open pit mining operations; the management of water becomes uncontrollable, which in turn leads to heavy erosion and sedimentation; acid drainage constitutes a threat to environmental health from the pollution of water and soils and because it persists for decades; and in no country has open-pit mining resolved the problem of poverty;

WHEREAS the processing of metals requires the removal of large quantities of water, in competition with traditional human activities, endangering human health, food security, and welfare of the population;

WHEREAS the high vulnerability of the Mesoamerican region to climate change in all areas of development which would be exacerbated by the effects on forests, water, soils, health, and human activities from open pit metal mining;

WHEREAS in the economic, fiscal, social, and environmental areas, the net benefit to these countries has not been verified, taking into account the tax advantages and low royalties paid by mining companies to governments, as well as the vulnerability of the sector before the ups and downs of prices, thousands of hectares of deforestation, pollution of ecosystems, and the impact on human health, all of it linked to the development of the metal mining sector;

AWARE that if nothing is done quickly to avoid these negative activities, there will be devastating and irreversible damage to the environment and human populations in the region;

The World Conservation Union at its fourth session, Barcelona, Spain, October 5 to 14, 2008:

1. ASKS the Governments of the countries of the Mesoamerican region to cancel the current mineral exploration and open pit metal mining with proven negative impact to the environment, and take the necessary preventive measures to ensure that in future permits for exploration and mining exclude open pit metal mining, and that strategic environmental assessments and other relevant instruments for environmental management be implemented and conducted in a rigorous manner, particularly in the Meso-American Biological Corridor.

2. REQUESTS the Secretariat and Committees to work together with the Mesoamerican regional membership to:

  1. support local NGOs, including indigenous groups and peoples in effective consultation prior to any granting of exploration and mining concessions as provided by ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.
  2. support communication campaigns on the current situation and future risks from open pit metal mining and prevent such risks to local communities, objectively informing them of the risks to which they would be exposed;
  3. urge governments to integrate cumulative synergistic impacts in large parts of the region into the processes of consultation and environmental impact studies, and emphasize the need for strategic environmental assessments and other instruments for environmental management.

Motion sponsored by:

1. National Association for the Conservation of Nature (ANCON), Panama
2. Terra Nostra Association, Costa Rica
3. Centre for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education (CATIE), Costa Rica
4. Centre for Environmental and Natural Resources Law (CEDARENA), Costa Rica
5. Association to Preserve Wild Fauna and Flora (APREFLOFAS), Costa Rica
6. Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources (Natura), Panama
7. Foundation for the Protection of the Sea (PROMAR), Panama