Minera Cuzcatlan to Start a Legal Process Against SEMARNAT
Mining company Minera Cuzcatlan, the Mexican subsidiary of Fortuna Silver Mines, will start a legal process to cancel or correct a SEMARNAT document. Recently, the environmental ministry informed the public it made a typo in the original Environmental Impact Manifestation (MIA) for the San Jose mine, with which it granted the company a permit extension period of two years instead of the 12 that the company specified in its application.
This February, Minera Cuzcatlan reported it had been working to solve this issue with the authorities. During that time, an agreement could not be reached. According to the company, the term of 12 years was repeatedly specified throughout its request and no other term was mentioned nor discussed with SEMARNAT.
In an interview with El Universal, Luis Camargo, Representative, Fortuna Silver Mexico, said that the company aims to achieve the extension’s cancellation through judiciary means. Camargo added that there are no anomalies in the processes to permit 73 of the works taking place at the San José mine, so the company still expects to reach a suitable agreement with the Mexican government.
However, the organization Front for No Mining for a Future of All (FNMFT) claims there are irregularities present in 73 of the 80 works at San José mine compromising the environment and urged SEMARNAT to deny the MIA permit.
In this regard, Camargo said that the company switched from a wet tailings storage process to a dry one, with the aim to save water. This change translated to a need for more workers, an expansion of the cafeteria and common areas, as well as enhanced power and grinding requirements. These modifications accounted for 75 of the works, which were accepted by the authorities at that time. Nevertheless, in 2021 authorities denied an updated permit because of pressure from FNMFT and Services for an Alternative Education (SEDUCA), although this issue was later resolved.
“We issued another request, because we considered that it was unfair to deny the update of MIA. On Dec. 10, 021, authorities decided to greenlight this request, which regularized the 73[sic] works,” Camargo explained. Regardless, SEMARNAT’s infamous typo threatens to derail this permission.
The San Jose Mine is located in the Taviche Mining District in the state of Oaxaca. It was commissioned in July 2011 and began commercial production in September of that same year. In 2021, the mine produced 6.4Moz of silver and 39,406oz of gold. According to Fortuna Silver, it is the largest employer in the area, providing work for 214 San Jose del Progreso community members and 349 Oaxacan citizens.