Natural resources and energy
The mining sector is small in Costa Rica and the only minerals that have been mined in recent years are gold and silver. Hydropower accounts for most of the electricity supply. There are probably significant oil reserves, but they are not exploited, partly because of strong environmental resistance.
Mineral extraction has also been stopped for environmental reasons. Since 2010, it has in principle been prohibited to break gold in mining. A Canadian company that had gold mining rights has threatened to sue Costa Rica for a billion dollars for breach of contract and non-profits.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Costa Rica with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Costa Rica also has mineral deposits, including bauxite, iron, copper, lead and limestone, but no extraction occurs.
Oil is found off the Caribbean coast. The resistance to oil drilling is great, but the profitability of any extraction has previously also been questioned. However, a temporary ban on oil drilling was introduced in 2011 and has been extended once, to 2021. However, an agreement between the state oil company Recope (Refinadora costarricense de petróleo) and a Chinese company to expand the refining capacity has aroused suspicion of plans to search oil and gas in the sea. For now, all oil is imported.
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Oil and natural gas used for transport and heating account for almost 70 percent of total energy consumption. Almost all electricity, on the other hand, comes from renewable sources. In 2018, the state electricity company announced that for four consecutive years, the country has managed to manage 98 percent of its electricity supply without fossil fuels.
Hydropower accounts for almost three quarters of electricity generation. About 15 percent comes from wind power, while 8 percent is extracted from volcanoes, and a smaller proportion through biomass. There is potential for export of electricity to neighboring countries. Costa Rica is part of a common Central American electricity grid.
Costa Rica has plans to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country in 2021. That would mean that the Costa Ricans do not release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they care for, including by planting trees.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
1,031 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1958 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
7 759 thousand tons (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
1.6 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
38.7 percent (2015)
Prison for ex-president
Former President Rafael Ángel Calderón (1990-1994) is sentenced to five years in prison for corruption. The sentence is later reduced to three years in prison.
Costa Rica and Cuba resume relations
President Óscar Arias announces that Costa Rica will reestablish relations with Cuba, which was broken in 1961.