The Dominican Environmental Movement has asked the country’s president, Danilo Medina, to annul its contract with Canada-based mining giant Barrick Gold for the controversial $3 billion USD Pueblo Viejo project.
On February 27, Medina had asked for a revision of the contract.
He called the contract “unacceptable” because Barrick Gold keeps 97 percent of the profits from mining activities. Medina said the natural resources that will be extracted are the property of the Dominican Republic.
A number of groups have since come forward in support of changes to the contract, including the Patriotic Pole, the Reformist Social Christian Party and the Revolutionary Dominican Party, among others.
Luis Carvajal, a spokesman for the Dominican Environmental Movement, added that the government’s contract with Barrick Gold contains clauses that transfer all environmental costs at the mine from the company to the state. Barrick Gold has responded that its operations will actually “deliver to the state a recovered area in better environmental condition” than before the project started.
The former president of the Bar Association of the Dominican Republic (CARD), Dr. Diego José García has urged Medina to declare a state of exception with regard to the contract with Barrick.
Garcia said the constitution grants absolute power to the president to declare a state of exception in cases that threaten the state.
For its part, the mining company has affirmed that it is willing to hold dialogue with the government on some aspects of the subscribed contract.
The Pueblo Viejo project has faced massive protests in the past over concerns about water contamination.
Most recently, on February 18, dozens of protesters had gathered in front of the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic, which was hearing a case contesting the Pueblo Viejo project.