Xenia Gonzales Oliva: El Diario de Hoy / Translation P. Cabezas

Between 2000-2010, 49 exploration permits were approved, they are all currently under an administrative freeze.  

49 applications for metal and non-metal mining are currently frozen even though the Regulatory Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of the Ministry of Economy authorized some in the past decade.

Between 2000 and 2010, the office received 95 applications for mining projects; 92 were for exploration permits and three for exploitation.

Most are located in the departments of La Union, San Miguel, Morazán and Cabañas. There were also requests for Santa Ana and Chalatenango.

The office also informed that it has not received applications since 2010, the latest company to ask for an exploration license was Brett Resources El Salvador, SA de CV. for the mining project Fuerteza located between Pasaquina and El Sauce in the department of La Union.

The company sought to exploit gold, silver, iron, copper, lead and zinc, but it was not allowed.

The last time the Minec authorized a mining exploration company was to Neutek SA de CV, for the region of Caña Brava in La Union.

Through the Office of Information and Response (OIR), the Ministry of Economy indicated that in the period between 2007 and 2015, they did not authorize any exploration licenses, nor mineral exploitation concessions.

The report also notes that none of the exploration licenses obtained in the past were given environmental permission to request the granting of an exploitation licence.

The office noted that there are no active licenses in the country.

But there are three requests for exploitation of minerals that are still under consideration, according to the OIR.

The applications were submitted by mining companies Commerce Group Corp. for the San Sebastian mine in Santa Rosa de Lima, La Union; Pacific Rim El Salvador, SA de C.V. for the El Dorado mine in Sensuntepeque, Cabañas; and Minera Atlas in El Zapote, Metapan, Santa Ana.

Minerals to be exploited in these three regions are: gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc and iron.

Although the projects are currently frozen, pending or rejected; the number of requests show evidence for the interest of mining companies in the country.

Meanwhile the country continues without an updated mining law, nor a decision in relation to mining prohibition.

Public rejection of mining has led to four municipalities to declare themselves as territories free from mining after holding local referendums. The last one to be held was in the municipality of Arcatao, Chalatenango.

Abandoned theme

In the Legislative Assembly there are seven shelved proposals to ban on mining and one proposal for a moratorium proposed by the government Mauricio Funes.

This proposal envisages giving mining permits if conditions to protect the environment are met.

So far, no proposal has been revised since 2011.

FMLN deputy, Jose Santos Melara, recognizes this issue is in limbo at the legislative assembly, it is behind other laws being discussed like the protection of pets and wild life.

Melara said that as a faction of the FMLN, they consider that mining should be completely prohibited.

Johnny Wright, ARENA deputy and secretary of the Environment Commission, also said the issue is not on the agenda of the commission and could not give a party position because he had not brought the issue to discussion fraction. He added that the discussion should take into account the views of citizens.

"the government proposal was received but we have scheduled a time for discussion at the commission" agreed Francis Zablah, from GANA.