Equinox Gold Struggles With Protests At Los Filos ComplexBy Fernando Mares | Mon, 09/12/2022 - 14:41
The Canada-based mining gold producer Equinox Gold reported that its operations at the Los Filos project were suspended due to protests organized by inhabitants of surrounding communities, compromising the production of one of the company’s highest-potential mines.
On Sept. 8, 2022, the company reported that its Los Filos operations were suspended because of a blockade by inhabitants of the Mezcala community, which impeded the company from receiving supplies essential for its operations. Equinox did not report why the protests are taking place. The company said it considers the blockade to be illegal, but it is nevertheless committed to surrounding communities and open to dialogue. “The company will engage with community [sic] leadership to find a solution that allows the mine to resume full operation,” the company said in a statement.
This is not the first time that Los Filos grapples with blockades. In the past, Equinox Gold has faced both community disputes and unionized worker protests. On Sep. 3, 2020, inhabitants of the El Carrizalillo community blocked access to the mine for two months, as the community argued that the company did not comply with their social collaboration agreement. The situation escalated to President López Obrador, who offered to mediate.
In 2021, a group of unionized workers from the National Union of Mining, Metallurgical and Similar Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM) Section 269 went on strike, arguing that the company did not comply with the collective bargaining agreement. At the same time, members of the Xochipala community blocked the mine’s access.
On Aug. 3, 2022, MBN reported that Los Filos Mining Complex reported significant decreases in its gold production, which was mainly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that caused essential staff to miss work. Carlos García, Director General, Los Filos, reported that the complex was expected to produce 160,000oz of gold, which is lower than the registered production of 2011, 2012 and 2013, when the mine produced over 400,000oz/y. “Now, we are working with outdated equipment, lower grades, distances from the deposits are now longer, the price is another factor that either plays in favor or against us,” said García referring to other factors that affected production.
The Los Filos Complex consists of three open-pit mines and two underground mines and is the only project the company is developing in Mexico.