April 20, 2017 / 3:13 PM / a year ago

OceanaGold says El Salvador freezing its assets lacks legal basis

SYDNEY, April 20 (Reuters) - Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corp said on Thursday that El Salvador has no legal basis for restricting its unit in the Central American country while it evaluates next steps in a dispute over extraction rights.

El Salvador said this week that it had frozen OceanaGold’s bank accounts and assets after the miner refused to pay the country $8 million as mandated by an international court.

OceanaGold had sought $250 million from El Salvador over a revoked extraction permit but the World Bank’s International Center for Settlements of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled against the miner and ordered it to pay the nation’s legal fees.

“The Company is currently evaluating its next steps in-line with the ICSID tribunal allowed timelines,” OceanaGold said in a statement. “There are no legal grounds for restricting the El Salvador subsidiary company’s activities during this period.”

The company reiterated that its El Dorado project, or any other opportunity in El Salvador, are not part of its business strategy right now.

The Salvadoran Congress passed a law in March that prohibits any type of metal mining, part of a bid to protect the country’s environment and natural resources. (Reporting By James Regan; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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