Communities Oppose Canadian Mine Project in ColimaBy Paloma Duran | Wed, 11/11/2020 - 10:42
Communities in Colima protested outside the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to show their rejection to the new Canadian mining project Rufus 5 that seeks to extract iron from the Canoas region. Community leaders are protesting that this project will contaminate the El Cocoa river, which is vital for their economic activities.
A Ministry of Economy report showed that Colima is the state that has the largest area destined for mining activities (39.1 percent), despite the fact that Colima only has 1 percent of the country’s concession areas, reported El Sin Embargo.
Hematite is the Canadian company that seeks to extract more than 2 million m3 of iron by opening a pit planned to be used for the next 16 years. The project operation includes the extraction of 30ha in forest land that will require a change of land, reported El Sin Embargo.
Rufus 5 would affect the El Cacao river that provides water to the following communities: Canoas, Puertecito de Lajas, Llano de la Marina, Ciruelito, Cedros, Lomas Ávila Camacho and Paticajo. The water is essential to the economic activities of the region, such as agriculture. Raymundo Campos, President of Communal Lands in Canoas, says coffee is what generates more resources to the region, reported Perimetral.
The company offered to restore the site and build a coffee plantation when the extraction activities are over. The communities said the Canadian company tried to make individual negotiations. However, land administrators did not accept those deals and explained that the decisions are done collectively through an assembly, reported Perimetral.
After a protest in October, these communities were informed by SEGOB, the Agrarian Attorney’s Office and INPI that a consultation was being planned. However, on Oct. 20, the communities sent a letter to SEMARNAT stating that they did not need another consultation and that the last assemblies should have enough power to reject the project, reported El Sin Embargo.
In an interview with MBN, Alfonso Caso, Partner in AOSocial, said there are topics concerning the Mining Law that must eventually be discussed and that the real question for the industry is at what stage in the development of a project a social study or consultation process is required. After all, most mining exploration projects do not end up as mines, he says.
He added that to minimize social liabilities as the project develops, there must be a comprehensive social due-diligence process every time the project changes hands. Agreements with the community should clearly identify needs, interests and propositions. These agreements need to be public, as well. The community must participate and their implementation must be transparent. If those requisites are met, the communities will stand behind the projects.