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El Salvador becomes first country to ban metals mining

El Salvador has banned all metals mining, saying it poses "a threat to the development and well-being of families." It becomes the first country to implement a blanket metals mining ban.

El Salvador Protest gegen Bergbau in San Salvador (Reuters/J. Cabezas)

El Salvador's Congress on Wednesday approved a law banning all metals mining in order to protect the environment.

Some countries have banned strip mining and open-pit techniques, but the bill passed in El Salvador prohibits all underground, aboveground or artisanal mining for metals.

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Supporters of the bill say the ban is necessary to protect water resources and reduce social tensions.

"Mining is not an appropriate way to reduce poverty and inequality in this country," said Ivan Morales, country director for the charity Oxfam in El Salvador.

"It would only exacerbate the social conflict and level of water contamination we already have."

The measure passed with 69 votes out of 84 possible, with the support of all parties.

Mining for salt, stones or sand will still be allowed.

The law also bans the use of toxic cyanide and mercury for mining.

cw/bw (AP, Reuters, EFE)

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