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International Update Volume 47, Issue 10

EL SALVADOR BANS ALL METAL MINING

El Salvador

Last week, El Salvador became the first country to ban all metal mining activities nationwide. The bill passed in a unanimous vote. The new law places an immediate and permanent ban on all metal mining, including exploratory activities, barring a two-year transition period for small-scale artisanal gold mines. The law is the culmination of years of campaigning and local action and of a 9-year moratorium on mining. In 2008, El Salvador denied a permit to El Dorado (now a subsidiary of OceanaGold), which then sued the country and lost.

EU TO REDUCE ELECTRICITY COSTS WHEN RENEWABLES ARE ABUNDANT

EU

The EU is intending to pass into law this year a rule that would require EU electric utilities to offer flexible pricing contracts. These contracts would effectively reduce the cost of electricity when the supply of energy is, abundant; in electric grids with renewable energy, this means during times when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

NEW ZEALAND RIVER GRANTED HUMAN RIGHTS

New Zealand

Earlier this month, the New Zealand government granted Te Awa Tupua, the country’s third largest river, the legal status of a living person. The Maori tribe, who have been fighting for this recognition for 140 years, considers the river as an ancestor, which has been the basis of their legal argument. The law means that harm inflicted on the river is considered equivalent to inflicting harm on members of the tribe. The new law now reflects the worldview of the Maori.