Sac-Tun Preserves Quintana Roo’s Environment: Vulcan MaterialsBy Fernando Mares | Thu, 07/28/2022 - 16:06
Since 2019, Vulcan Material, the US’ largest producer of construction aggregates, has been involved in a rift with the López Obrador administration, which accused the company of damaging the environment in Quintana Roo. The company nevertheless assured it has efficient mitigating measures implemented in its daily operations.
On July 7, 2022, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources María Albores announced that the government would file an appeal with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, regarding the environmental damage caused by the company’s operations.
The company stated that the government’s actions were questionable and considered its accusations as unfounded. Sac-Tun explained that it was unaware of the specific complaints since it did not receive a copy of the document. The company also criticized the decision of the government to file a complaint with the UN because the organization does not wield any authority regarding mining affairs and lacks the expertise in the industry. “What Mexico falsely calls ‘environmental destruction’ is the same impact, which at the time, the government itself authorized and expected to be acceptable. We will continue to defend our rights through the arbitration process under NAFTA, which is not affected by the alleged complaint of the government,” the company stated.
In an interview with Forbes, José Xapur, Human Resources Manager, Sac-Tun, and Karla González, Sustainability Manager, Sac-Tun recognized that the extraction of limestone causes some impact on the environment, but assured that the company has a mitigation plan firmly in place.
According to Xapur, the company operates with procedures that no other company in the mining sector has regarding waste management and reforestation programs. The company owns a tree nursery that produces over 20,000 trees of 21 different species each year, currently, it reforests 8ha/y. Since 1990, the company has preserved endemic species such as ceiba, cedar, sapote, baobab and chit palm trees, among others. Most of the produced trees are used for the exit plan after the company finishes its extraction. The remaining trees are donated to civil society and to the government.
The company also evaluates potential land modifications and geological characteristics like the erosion potential and underground water deposits to avoid pollution, which according to Xapur, assures that extractive activities will not affect the aquatic ecosystem and the local flora and fauna.
Vulcan Materials stated that despite López Obrador’s accusations, the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) awarded the company the Clean Industry certification on six occasions. Furthermore, the Wild Life Habitat Council (WHC) granted the company the Species Management Project certification in 2016.