Latin American activists have string of successes against gold mines

Even with mining laws, environmental laws, and international free-trade agreements heavily weighted against them, activists in Latin America have had a string of recent successes stopping open-pit and cyanide heap-leach mines from polluting their groundwater and decimating hillsides. In Peru last November, protestors blocked roads near the city of Cajamarca, forcing U.S.-based gold giant Newmont Mining Corp. to close an exploration site, marking the first time Newmont caved to pressure to close a mine. Last summer, officials in Honduras halted a Canadian company’s strip mine, saying it intruded on a nature reserve. And the highest court in Costa Rica nixed a gold mine in December, ruling it would damage the environment. But with gold prices at over $430 an ounce, the number of U.S.- and Canadian-owned mines in the region is only expected to increase, even in the face of fierce resistance.