Image credits: Gobierno de México
News Article

New Plan Aims to Address Major Mining Problems In Cananea

By Paloma Duran | Thu, 07/08/2021 - 18:18

President López Obrador announced a new Comprehensive Care Plan for Cananea that seeks to provide social justice through the implementation of programs that will improve the quality of life of its citizens and address the most pressing mining problems in Cananea, Sonora.

The new plan constitutes the following: labor, social security, environmental health, well-being and urban development. President López Obrador announced that he will meet with the Ministers of Interior, SEMARNAT, Labor, Welfare and Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development to develop and implement better strategies.

The president stressed that this new plan seeks to deliver justice to the historic struggle of miners in Cananea and reach a resolution for the current labor disputes between employees and mining companies, especially regarding pensions. The Ministries of Labor and Interior will be in charge of following up on labor demands and implementing a dialogue between the parties to reach a beneficial agreement.

Cananea is rich in minerals, which has made it an attractive mining destination. However, an important part of its exploitation has not been carried out in a socially or environmentally responsible manner. Therefore, the implementation of sustainable exploitation practices and models must be urgently established, said Luis María Alcalde Luján, Minister of Labor. "We have to establish a better framework that benefits communities and provides decent jobs and health services, in addition to caring for the environment," said Alcalde.

The minister emphasized that the improvement of conditions seeks above all to provide social justice, decent pensions, freedom of association and better access to health services. In addition, it aims to combat employment discrimination by eliminating "black lists", where people and family members who demand better rights are crossed out so that they cannot obtain employment.

In regards to environmental matters, the government promised to carry out studies in the Sonora River, which has been one of the most affected by irresponsible mining. Although it has previously been said that the damage was repaired, last year the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ordered the revaluation of the case. Likewise, constant tests and monitoring will be carried out to ensure that the water is not more contaminated.

In respect to health, the capacity of the IMSS Family Medical Unit will be increased with the incorporation of 8 clinics. In addition, the Agua Prieta Regional Hospital will be remodeled. The government announced that it will invest MX$50 million (US$2.51 million) to improve health services in Cananea.

In regards to assistance, programs for the elderly, pensions, education, people with disabilities, rural growers, among other vulnerable groups, assistance will be provided. Meanwhile, for urban development, the government will improve services and infrastructure in order to install public spaces for cultural and sports activities.

What Troubles Cananea?

For years, former workers of the Cananea copper mine say that they are owed US$54 million due to a conflict in 1990, when the mine was privatized and became property of Grupo México. In addition to this claim, the SNTMMSSRM union’s section 65 has held an unofficial strike since 2007, arguing that the conditions at the mine are unsafe. In 2010, a court ruling ended the contract between the union and Grupo México; however, the strike continues. The resolution of the conflict is very important since Cananea, now Buenavista, is the company's largest copper mine in the country.

Meanwhile, Grupo México has argued that its Buenavista mine has been a driver of development for Cananea. It has also reaffirmed its commitment to the well-being of the environment and its communities.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Gobierno de México, Grupo México
Photo by:   Gobierno de México
Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst