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Defenders of the communities in Costa Rica threatened by Infinito Gold’s Crucitas mine have been on a hunger strike for over two weeks to urge the government to revoke the mine’s special decree.

Meanwhile, a trial continues to determine if the former government of Oscar Arias broke the law in permitting the mine and in declaring the project of “Public Interest and National Convenience.” The trial has uncovered company plans to turn a public road into a tailings pond for its project, in violation of the law requiring the legislative assembly to approve such a change to a road. It also appears that a government agency rushed to conclusions on the hydrological impacts of the project. These developments are encouraging to project critics, but arguments in the trial may take an additional two weeks.

The new government of Laura Chinchilla has stopped new gold mining projects but has so far refused to revoke the decree on Crucitas. She has alleged that revoking the decree would expose the government to massive lawsuits by the company, similar to those of Pacific Rim and Commerce Group in El Salvador. But a University of Costa Rica study has found that the country could face massive compensation claims from Nicaragua over contamination of the shared San Juan River if the mine proceeded and contaminated the watershed. Experts have recalled the collapse of the Bellavista mine in western Costa Rica as evidence that company claims of water protection are unreliable.

A possible mining project in Bribri-Talamanca Indigenous Reserve in the Talamanca Mountains has also caused some concern.

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