(Ottawa/Toronto) Canadian organizations are disappointed that Calgary-based Infinito Gold has lodged a long-threatened investor-state lawsuit against the Costa Rican government in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The company is contesting Costa Rica’s legitimate rejection of the proposed Crucitas open-pit gold mine. The groups once again urge Infinito management to drop the unwarranted legal action, accept the will of the Costa Rican people who rejected the mine, recognize the country’s 2010 ban on open-pit mining, and leave the country.
“It’s outrageous that this firm can’t pay its legal fees owing to two critics that it tried to sue for defamation in Costa Rica, but has the funds to sue the country. Public opinion polls in Costa Rica have shown that a majority of the population opposes mining and the Costa Rican court has repeatedly found against Infinito’s project. The company should demonstrate some respect and walk away,” remarks Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator with MiningWatch Canada.
Although Infinito has lowered its compensation demands from $1-billion to $94 million, the amount of their stated investments in the Crucitas project, even this is unreasonable: Infinito owes $200,000 in legal costs to the professors it tried to sue for defamation, the initial approval for the Crucitas project was declared illegal, and it should not be up to the public in any country to insure mining companies against losses.
“The investment protections in Canadian agreements like its Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with Costa Rica or in NAFTA shift the balance of power too far in the interests of multinational corporations. We can draw parallels between the Infinito lawsuit and a similar challenge by Lone Pine Resources to Quebec’s precautionary moratorium on hydraulic fracturing under the St. Lawrence River. In both cases, the people should be able to say no to unwanted mega-projects without fear of attracting a costly, time-consuming and unnecessary investor lawsuit,” says Stuart Trew, Trade Campaigner with The Council of Canadians.
“We cannot meaningfully talk about sustainable economic development while corporate rights are allowed to supersede human rights and undermine the role of governments to legislate on social, environmental and economic matters in anti-democratic tribunals. We encourage the government of Costa Rica to consider cancelling its investment treaty with Canada in response to the Infinito case, as other Latin American countries are doing, to create a more balanced investment regime,” says Meera Karunananthan, Coordinator of the Blue Planet Project.
In December, more than 300,000 people signed a SumOfUs petition that was directed at the company and said: “Costa Rica has the right to protect its rainforests. Drop the lawsuit now.”
For more information contact:
- Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439
- Stuart Trew, Trade Campaigner, Council of Canadians, strew(at)canadians.org, (416) 979-0451
- Meera Karunananthan, Coordinator, Blue Planet Project, 613-355-2100, mkarunananthan(at)canadians.org
- Raul Burbano, Program Director, Common Frontiers – Canada, burbano(at)rogers.com, (416) 522-8615
HISTORY OF ACTION
- December 20, 2013: Groups send a joint communiqué to Infinito Gold, the Government of Costa Rica, the people of Costa Rica, the Government of Canada and the people of Canada.
- November 21, 2013: A petition signed by more than 14,000 people is delivered to Infinito CEO John Morgan at an annual meeting in Calgary, Alberta.
- October 10, 2013: Joint statement demands “that Infinito Gold respect the will of the vast majority of Costa Ricans, stop its legal intimidation of the people and government of Costa Rica, abide by consecutive Supreme Court rulings against the Crucitas mine and immediately drop its claim at ICSID.”
- July 4, 2013: Groups mark the Costa Rican supreme court’s rejection of Infinito’s appeal to a November 2011 court decision annulling the concession for the Crucitas mine.
- April 16, 2013: Group send a strongly worded letter to Infinito CEO John Morgan asking the firm to drop its “decade-long harassment of the people and the government of Costa Rica,” and withdraw its threat to sue under the Canada-Costa Rica FIPA for $1-billion.