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El Salvador Votes for a Complete Ban on Metals Mining

LADB Article ID: 80269
Category/Department: El Salvador
Date: 2017-04-20
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

After more than a decade of grassroots campaigning, corporate lobbying, punishing lawsuits, and high-stakes arbitration hearings, El Salvador has opted to end its tumultuous relationship with the metals-mining industry once and for all. With support from across the political spectrum, lawmakers in the tiny Central American nation took the unprecedented step March 29 of outlawing metals mining outright. The Ley de Prohibición de la Minería Metálica, as the blanket ban is formally known, is considered the most sweeping anti-mining legislation issued anywhere on the planet, and drew immediate applause from academics, environmentalists, and civil society activists. The prohibition applies to both open-pit and underground mining, making it a crime not only to extract and process metals, but even to prospect for them. It also outlaws the use of cyanide, mercury, and other toxic chemicals associated with metals mining, but does not apply to rock quarrying or mining of non-metal materials like coal or salt.

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