Mazapil Nature Reserve May Not Get the Green LightBy Paloma Duran | Thu, 12/03/2020 - 16:30
Local authorities have asked the federal government to approve a 2014 decree to protect wildlife. If the decree gets approved, Mexico could pass the initiative to create a nature reserve in Zacatecas, the state with the highest silver production in the country. Representatives of the mining industry and politicians have warned that a nature reserve could affect the economy and mining operations of the state.
Mexico is the world’s top silver producer and represents 21 percent of the global production. Mining companies have propitious conditions for extracting the mineral and as a result, silver mining has become an attractive business in Mexico, according to MBN.
In 2019, silver mining production totaled 187.8 million oz, a decrease of 3.5 percent against 2018. Zacatecas is the top silver producer and has a market share of 36.4 percent in the mining sector. Moreover, Zacatecas has the Saucito, Fresnillo and Peñasquito mines, which are the largest silver mines in the country, reported CAMIMEX.
In August, an initiative was introduced to the Zacatecas Congress that urges the Ministry of Economy to cease the granting of mining concessions and to decree the Mazapil municipality as a protected natural area.
Mazapil holds Newmont’s Peñasquito mine, which is one of Mexico’s biggest gold, silver, lead and zinc producers, and Minera Frisco’s Tayahua copper-zinc asset. In addition, the Orla Mining Camino Rojo gold project and Fresnillo’s concessions are also located in the same municipality, reported Mining.com.
PT Deputy Gabriela Pinedo Morales and MORENA Deputy Jesús Padilla Estrada presented the initiative. They said that mining activities are not contributing to the well-being of the population and that the mineral wealth of Mazapil has become a source of conflict, with high environmental costs, reported the Zacatecas’ Congress.
Alma Dávila, Congresswoman for Zacatecas, said this initiative is not seeking to ban mining but to increase its regulation and control. Dávila said the first biosphere reserve in Zacatecas is part of the government’s commitment to apply clean development mechanisms, which go in accordance with the Kyoto Treaty that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, reported La Jornada.
According to CAMIMEX's Annual Report, 40 affiliated companies obtained CEMEFI’s ESR Distinction in 2019, ratifying their environmental and social commitment and showing respect for communities and the environment.
“We are committed to strengthening sustainable development and well-being to positively impact our workers, their families, our neighbors and the environment. It is our responsibility to take care of the natural environment that surrounds the communities where we operate, since its conservation allows development to be viable and sustainable,” CAMIMEX President Fernando Alanís, told MBN.
In August, Tom Palmer, Newmont’s President and CEO, said the company was looking forward to operate with sustainable practices in Zacatecas. Palmer added that it is only through patient and transparent community engagement, combined with strong government support, that Newmont was able to reach a lasting solution with the Cedros community regarding their previous disputes about water, infrastructure and land use, reported MBN.
Representatives of the mining industry and politicians have warned that a protected natural area could have a negative impact on Zacatecas’ economy. Representatives from Newmont, Fresnillo, Minera Frisco and Orla said the state is a major source of well-paid jobs and a driver for local supply chains. Mining contributes significantly to the state’s GDP, social development and environmental remediation, reported BNamericas.
According to CAMIMEX’s Annual Report, in 2019, mining’s commitment to the creation of employment resulted in 379,093 jobs. The report stated these were strongly impacted due to the pandemic-related economic contraction. Nevertheless, the mining industry managed to maintain most of its jobs.
The first mining forum took place in October and aimed to analyze the consequences and feasibility of the Mazapil Initiative. During the forum, PAN Deputy Emma Lisset López Murillo highlighted the importance of considering different opinions to fully assess the situation, reported NTR.
In November, the second forum’s objective was to understand and consider the population’s and researchers’ opinions. Ruben del Poxo, President of the Zacatecas District at the Association of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists and Geologists of Mexico (AIMMGM), said that the request is valid. However, it is important to question if the population welcomes the initiative, reported Express Zacatecas.
The third forum on Mazapil will include an evaluation of the initiative by the members of the Committee of Economic Development, Industry and Mining of the 63rd Zacatecas Congress, reported NTR.