Supreme Court Denies Injunction Request against Orinoco Mining Arc

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has thrown out an injunction request that would have temporarily halted the national government’s contentious Orinoco Mining Arc project. 

By Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas

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Venezuela's Supreme Court blocked an injunction sought by activists and former government ministers against the Orinoco Mining Arc. (Archive)
Venezuela's Supreme Court blocked an injunction sought by activists and former government ministers against the Orinoco Mining Arc. (Archive)
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Caracas, October 31, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court Justice (TSJ) has thrown out an injunction request that would have temporarily halted the national government’s contentious Orinoco Mining Arc project. 

On May 31 of this year, a group of former politicians and social activists filed an official complaint against the mega-mining enterprise with the country’s highest court, claiming that the project would have devastating environmental and social consequences.  

Specifically their appeal asks the TSJ to rule on the legality and constitutional legitimacy of a decree signed by President Nicolas Maduro in February, which opens up nearly 112 square kilometres of the mineral-rich, Amazonian state of Bolivar to 150 national and transnational firms for the extraction of gold, iron, diamonds, and coltan. 

The plea also included a request for an injunction pending the court’s final decision on the case.  

However the TSJ ruled that the injunction request was “inadmissible” last Thursday, citing a lack of “evidence” to support the plaintiffs' claims that the mining project would cause “irreparable damage” to the environment and surrounding indigenous communities.  

“In this particular case, which is of vital importance for the Nation, the plaintiffs must demonstrate and clearly prove the need for an injunction… which cannot be granted…without the existence of facts which resoundingly prove the irreparability… of the damages that would be caused through carrying out the disputed act," reads the text of the ruling. 

Movements maintain that the legislation violates several aspects of the country’s 1999 Constitution, including legal protections for the environment and indigenous peoples. 

The government claims that the mining project is a necessary step towards stabilising the national economy following a collapse in oil revenue.  

The first “exploration” phase of the project began in September.  

A decision on the constitutionality of the mega-mining project has yet to be announced.  

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