Open Pit Mining Projects at Risk
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Open Pit Mining Projects at Risk

Photo by:   Albert Hyseni
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Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Tue, 05/24/2022 - 15:09

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) backed the protests of inhabitants from Temixco, Morelos against the open pit mining projects Esperanza I and II of Esperanza Silver, the Mexican subsidiary of the Canadian Zacatecas Silver. The environmental ministry has recently also acted against other open pit mining projects.


SEMARNAT stated that the mining projects affect over 200,000 people and compromise the health and environment of the Temixco, Xochitepec, Miacatlan, Emiliano Zapata and Coatetelco municipalities. The ministry stressed the ecological damage caused by the mining operation impedes the communities to develop sustainable economic activities due to water and soil pollution, as the high demand for water also causes a risk of water scarcity. 


Last month, the residents of Temixco, backed by NGOs, announced a decree to ban mining activities in the territories traditionally occupied by Nahua ndigenous communities. 


“The government of Mexico maintains its commitment to not award new permits for open pit mines following the high quantity of permits granted during the neoliberal period. This reinforces the [government’s] commitment with communities toward their health and healthy environment,” SEMARNAT stated. 


Last year, Minister of the Environment María Albores declared that there was indeed a de facto ban on new open pit mining projects since president López Obrador had order it, but the restructuib had not been confirmed as official policy. The Mexican Mining Chamber (CAMIMEX) decried the government’s tough approach to the industry, referring to obstacles in the permitting process, the freezing of concessions and the recently approved Mining Law reform.


Other open pit mining projects the government has stopped are Invecture Group’s Los Cardones and Almaden Mineral’s Ixtaca, as well as Argonaut Gold’s San Antonio and Cerro del Gallo projects.


This April, Zacatecas Silver announced it had completed the acquisition of the advanced-stage Esperanza Gold Project from Alamos Gold, with a transaction valued over US$60 million. The company has projected an investment of US$500 million over 10 years and expects to foster the creation of 1,200 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs. 


Earlier this month, the company announced it has reached an agreement with the Tetlama community. It said that the municipality, the ejido and agricultural representatives actively participated in the design and development of geotechnical and technical studies, which mainly addressed the risk of water contamination. They also gave the company authorization to enter their land to create job opportunities. The company had announced La Esperanza project was developed under the company’s new model of Socially and Environmentally Responsible Mining.

Photo by:   Albert Hyseni

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