The company Pedregal must halt its limestone mining operations in Nicoya for six months following a precautionary order by the Guanacaste Criminal Court.
The action was announced by the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office in a Sept. 2 press release.
The precautionary order is part of an ongoing investigation against the manager of the quarry, surnamed Zamora Mora, who the prosecutor alleges is linked to the crime of changing a forest’s land use and threatening natural resources.
The prosecutor accused Zamora of being the primary suspect of giving orders at the Nicoya quarry to exploit the forested area, which has legal restrictions on its use, and who since 2011 has given operational orders at the company including those related to land use.
The Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal investigation in 2015 after obtaining results of a study by the National System of Conservation Areas that showed illegal land use in the southern sector of the quarry.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the area mined by the company expanded by 1.45 hectares between 2010 and 2014. Of that area, 74 percent is forest.
Company attorney Gavridge Pérez told The Voice of Guanacaste his client hasn’t been notified of the precautionary order, which he said he would analyze in order to challenge it.
“I can tell you that I’ve recommended my client, don Rafael Ángel Zamora Mora, not to comment on any alleged order that he hasn’t officially received yet. Yes, I find it peculiar how without us having been notified (of the order) it’s been leaked, or who leaked the news. As of now, we haven’t been notified,” the attorney said.
Pedregal has a long list of previous criminal actions including the closing of its quarry in Belén de Heredia for environmental damage to water tables, and a prison sentence for environmental crimes handed down to its owner, Rafael Ángel Zamora Fernández.
Zamora Fernández was sentenced to two years in prison for diverting water from the Lajas River, which feeds the Madrigal Laguna, and changing the land use of a 31-hectare forested area. The sentence remains under appeal.