On Wednesday a small nation of Central America, set an example for the world by putting ban on metals mining following a long-running dispute with a Canadian-Australian company over a gold project. El Salvador has just become the first country in the world to totally prohibit the exploration and mining of metals above or within the earth.
The country’s Congress made history by approving a law which prohibits all metal mining projects in a bid to protect the poor Central American country’s environment and natural resources.
The new law, which enjoyed cross-party support from 70 lawmakers, blocks all exploration, extraction and processing of metals, whether in open pits or underground.
The law was passed by 70 different lawmakers on Wednesday in an effort to protect the environment, as well as the country’s water sources. According to El Salvador’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources in 2013, 90% of surface water was polluted from agricultural runoff.
Though mining for minerals such as salt and sand will still be allowed, the use of mercury and cyanide in the mining process is included in the ban.
“Large scale mining can cause environmental contamination and contribute to the violation of the rights of local communities to protect their personal security and livelihoods,” wrote 10 members Congress, discouraging the act of mining. “In recent years, many countries of Latin America have experienced violence and conflict related to mining.”
“Mining is not an appropriate way to reduce poverty and inequality in this country,” said Ivan Morales, country director for the charity Oxfam in El Salvador, according to DW. “It would only exacerbate the social conflict and level of water contamination we already have.”