Almaden Minerals Announces Adoption of Human Rights Policy
Canada-based Almaden Minerals has announced the adoption of a Human Rights Policy in their Puebla -based Sierra Norte, Ixtaca project.
Almaden announced in a press release the decision was made by their Board of Directors, who sought to improve working conditions, while upholding the “company's long-standing commitment, and expectations of its employees, consultants, service providers, local communities, and the governments in the jurisdictions in which it operates.” The Ixtaca Silver and Gold deposits was discovered by Almaden in 2010, not without various skirmishes with the federal government and local ejidos and communities along the way.
In an effort to improve and standardize their operation in the wholly-owned Ixtaca deposit, the company reiterated that human rights are of utmost importance for them and their various processes within the structure. Therefore, such an adoption was imminent and long overdue.
“Almaden has a demonstrable and long-standing commitment to conducting its business in a manner which promotes the quality of life of local people. However, as the Ixtaca project advances, so does its potential to impact human rights both directly and indirectly. This policy reflects the importance of these matters to Almaden, and reiterates the priority we place on human rights when it comes to project design and operation throughout the life cycle of the project and beyond, with the intent that only positive impacts occur,” said Duane Poliquin, Chairman of Almaden Minerals.
This Human Rights Policy comes at a difficult time for Almaden especially when it comes to government interaction. In an expert contributor piece for MBN, Pablo Méndez explains the rocky road mining companies have had to face when dealing with the government, and how Almaden has had to halt operations in their Ixtaca project due to the government’s permits denial that involve open-pit extractive processes. Moreover, Méndez also highlighted the continued legal conflict with the Tecoltemic Ejido, who has sometimes obtained a suspension of activities through an amparo. In fact, last year, SEMARNAT ultimately denied the project an Environmental Impact Statement, which means the company has not been able to develop through the project’s stages.
It is no surprise, however, that Almaden Metals decided to adopt the Human Rights Policy. “It is quite clear that the current recognition of human rights has prompted government agencies to listen to the voice of the Ejidal and indigenous communities, and, therefore, to strictly enforce mining and environmental regulations,” said Méndez. According to Méndez, such regulations are not the main problem, but generally unfounded stigmatization of mining activities in Mexico. If mining is to advance and continue to be one the main industries in Mexico, efforts should be made to strengthen their relationship with the government and improve the image of their sector, especially in regards to communities.