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News Article

Mistakes in Environmental Permitting

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 12:29

Obtaining environmental approval from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in order to begin a mining project is no small task. Without the correct environmental permits, all of the other permissions are meaningless. The most common mistakes that mining companies make during their permitting process are:

  • Not publishing the Project Statement in a high circulation newspaper of the entity or region within the first five working days after handing in the Environmental Impact Statement (MIA), as required by Article 34 Part 1 of the General Law on Ecological Equilibrium and Protection of the Environment (LGEEPA)
  • Not presenting the Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) in accordance with Article 30 of the LGEEPA when the method of extraction is consideed to be highly risky
  • Providing an incomplete or confusing description of the works and activities the project entitles
  • Lacking or having an incomplete link with the required legal instruments. In some cases, analysis are omitted or just mentioned without providing the details of how the project will keep up with the regulations, criteria, and guidelines
  • Lacking the Environmental Delimitation System, or preparing it incorrectly by doing it independently from the environmental characterization, which provides the geographical framework for the description of the environmental factors
  • Providing an oversized Environmental Delimitation System, which does not reflect the true environmental issue within the area of influence of the project or its ecological integrality. Oversizing is common because with it the petitioner justifies the minimal impact of the project on the environmental system
  • Failing to describe potential acid draining and flow of toxic waste contained in the low grade mineral that will not be subjected to beneficiation, and the sterile mineral that needs to be removed in order to access the ore deposit
  • Having an incomplete hydric balance. Not provide the required elements to identify if the existing resource is enough for the project needs without compromising other uses and the environmental cost it may present
  • Misusing the concept of environment impact, which relates to loss of vegetation cover and land degradation, decrease of wildlife habitat, and soil erosion, among many other
  • Lack of detail in the description of the environmental impact, which needs to contain hard data, such as the square meters of forest that will be affected, the amount of trees that will be cut down, and the fauna that will be displaced
  • Supplying evaluation results that do not indicate the methodologies, criteria and a hierarchy used to evaluate the environmental impact
  • Lacking hard facts in the mitigation measures proposal such as size of the surface undergoing renovation, length of post-closure monitoring, and relocation of the rescued resources