Regarding Daphne Eviatar's Aug. 14 Outlook article, "A Toxic Trade-Off": I have come to expect twisted reasoning and half-truths from Oxfam America and Keith Slack, but I expected your paper to be more discerning.

Mining is indeed regulated, quite intensely so, from exploration through reclamation. Experience shows that Oxfam has instigated many of the protests of mining operations that more than meet international environmental and social standards while building infrastructure and generating employment. In the case of Glamis Gold Ltd.'s Marlin project in western Guatemala, half of the annual $5 million payroll goes to local employees and another third to Guatemalans from other parts of the country. The company, directly and through the Sierra Madre Foundation, which it established, has been engaged in forestry and reforestation, health care and community development even before mine production begins.

Inconsistent, non-timely application of environmental regulation, as occurs occasionally in the United States, is very costly to companies, which is why Glamis Gold has sued on behalf of its California operation, although I think Glamis should have just set aside more funds for reclamation and not sued. Bilateral trade agreements can address settlements, litigated or arbitrated, of cross-border environmental disputes and can attempt to address poor regulatory practices. These agreements can do little or nothing to overcome the weaknesses of local and national administrations in Latin American countries. Nor can mining companies or foreign nongovernmental organizations.

-- Leni S. Berliner


The writer chairs M3 Investment Group, a private group providing advisory and financial services to the global mining industry. M3 is not an investor in Glamis Gold.