Mexican Government Sues Vulcan Materials Before the UNBy Fernando Mares | Thu, 07/07/2022 - 16:59
After weeks of threats and negotiations, the federal government sued Vulcan Materials before the UN for the environmental damage its Mexican subsidiary, Calica is causing in Quintana Roo.
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources María Albores announced on Twitter that the Mexican government filed against Vulcan Materials. The document was sent to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. “This is the land of all Mexicans, to take care of it is our responsibility. We came here to defend nature and our sovereignty,” Albores added without providing further detail regarding the content of the document.
Following Albores' statement, the federal government spokesperson, Jesús Ramírez, recognized SEMARNAT’s actions and highlighted the importance of defending the responsible use of natural resources. “By protecting the territory and the environment, we defend [natural] resources and a future for the coming generations,” Ramírez said.
The Calica case has confronted the Mexican government and Vulcan Materials for years. In 2019, Vulcan Materials requested arbitration against the Mexican government under USMCA regulation due to revocations of its port concessions. The company asked for a US$1.1 billion compensation stating that the government’s actions were unilateral. In response, in February 2022, López Obrador proposed the company to withdraw the lawsuit in exchange for resources to transform the company’s limestone production facility into a tourism project.
Despite reaching an agreement in April 2022, López Obrador accused the company of not complying with it later in May, as extraction activities continued even though the company did not possess the required permits. As a result, the president instructed SEMARNAT to stop all operations at the company’s facilities. The company declared it did have the required permits and considered to take again legal action against the Mexican government.
On May 23, 2022, López Obrador met with Thomas Hill, CEO, Vulcan Materials, in an effort to reduce the escalating tension between the parties. However, no agreement was reached. The government’s states that Vulcan Materials is damaging the environment and extracting limestone illegally. López Obrador also assured having video evidence of the company’s impact on the local flora and fauna. Meanwhile, Vulcan Materials argues that it has operated in the country for years, complying with the environmental legislation and accused the federal government of launching a smear campaign against the company.
“Before the Mexican government started its smear campaign against Sac-Tun, the company had never been accused of corruption; even the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environment Protection (PROFEPA) has granted the company the Clean Industry Certification in six occasions,” the company said in a statement.