El Salvador just became the wold’s first country to ban metal mining. In a historic move, the country will no longer allow “prospection, exploration, exploitation, extraction or processing of metallic minerals.” While the US seems to be moving backwards when it comes to environmental protection, El Salvador has made a landmark step towards protecting its environment from the ravages of metal mining.

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This law “is necessary in the face of an industry which, far from bringing any benefit to communities, brings serious pollution to water sources and the environment,” said Mauricio Sermeno, president of the Salvadoran Ecological Unit. Lawmakers expect the move to protect not only the environment, but poor rural communities that are often threatened by mining projects.

Related: Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment

Multiple countries in Latin America are engaged in battles with mining interests. Nicaragua, Peru and Guatemala are fighting against Canadian and US mining firms. Other countries thrive on the money mining brings, but struggle with the toxic and environmental problems caused by it. In banning mining, El Salvador is drawing a line between gold and green. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren signed the bill into law on Thursday. Here’s hoping this inspires other countries to do the same.

Via Phys.org

Images via Wikimedia and Flickr (1, 2)