Almaden Minerals Signs Further Community Cooperation Agreement
Almaden Minerals announced that, as part of the social and environmental efforts of its subsidiary Minera Gorrión, it signed a cooperation agreement with the ejido Santa Maria Zotoltepec. The company said it will launch agricultural and soil restoration projects to ensure the well-being of the surrounding communities.
According to Almaden Minerals, the agreement is similar to the one signed between the company and the United Ejidatarios for the Sustainable Development of Santa Maria Zotoltepec, a community located 1.5km from the Ixtaca project, the company's most important project in Puebla. Here, Almaden agreed to develop water infrastructure projects to support an agro-technological project fostering sustainable plant nutrition and soil enrichment. The new agreement was signed by the entire ejido and the voting process was carried out according to strict agrarian rules as well as signed through an Act of Assembly.
In the long term, the agreement enables the parties to work together to develop the company’s Social Management Plan, which involves several UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The company considers the agreement as key to fully developing Ixtaca’s Social Management Plan currently based on the Human Rights Impact Assessment, which is a procedure similar to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). A social management approach is not required by Mexican law but is considered to be a good practice in the mining sector.
According to the Santa Maria Zotoltepec ejido, Almaden Mineral has had communication channels open for years to inform community members about the Ixtaca project’s impact and benefits, as well as the prevention, mitigation and compensation strategies surrounding the project. “Intending to generate common good for our ejido, we have asked to be included in the company’s Social Management Plan… We understand the scope of exploration and proposed mining activities and wish to participate to bring direct benefits to our ejido,” said the organization.
According to Duane Poliquin, Chair, Almaden Minerals, the company has always been welcomed in the Santa Maria ejido. The agreement, which formalizes the company’s ties with the community, is proof of that. “This agreement cements this approach through local leadership and sets us up to continue delivering on such fundamental priorities as water rights, education, health, opportunity, workers’ rights, environment, culture and more,” Poliquin added.
Nonetheless, the Ixtaca project appears to have been suspended by the Supreme Court (SCJN) following a failed Indigenous consultation process meant to be instigated by the government. Additionally, some other surrounding communities complained about the project and accused the company of sowing division.