The results of the much-anticipated vote were unanimous: 69 in favor, none against, and no abstentions. Fifteen of the country’s 84 lawmakers did not show up for the vote.
The result “makes tiny El Salvador the unlikely hero in a global movement to put the brakes on a modern day ‘gold rush’,” MiningWatch Canada wrote in a statement Thursday. The Central American nation is the first country in the world to ban mining for gold and other metals, according to the industry watchdog group.
With the exception of a transition period for small-scale artisanal gold miners, the law provides for an immediate, definitive, and permanent ban on all metals mining, including exploration activities. No old permits or license applications will be grandfathered in, according to the succinct 11-article bill. It will take effect one week after its publication in the official government gazette.
“Today’s a historic day, thanks to all the struggle over the years for a ban on metallic mining,” Mata said during the discussion in the legislative assembly Wednesday, shortly before the bill was put to a vote.
Francis Zablah, a legislator from GANA, one of the three main political parties in the country together with the FMLN and ARENA, lauded the multi-partisan commission on the environment and climate change for rising above inter-party political divisions to advance the bill.
“The interests of the country prevailed above all. That should prevail in every commission,” Zablah told his colleagues on the floor before the vote.
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