San Rafael Mine is No Longer BlockedBy Paloma Duran | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 11:47
Mexico's National Union of Mining, Metallurgical, Steel and Allied Workers has announced that the access points to the facilities of Americas Gold and Silver’s San Rafael mine in Sinaloa are no longer blocked. In addition, Americas is resuming operations, aimed to benefit 324 employees.
After months of failed negotiations, the company announced it will finally resume operations in Cosalá. Based on the agreement signed on July 6 with the Triturados Mineros del Noroeste y la Unión , on Sept. 10 the accesses to the San Rafael mine were finally unblocked. The mine had been blocked for 20 months on the grounds that Americas needed to improve working conditions.
Recently, inspectors from the Ministry of Labor visited the mine and Los Braceros mills to review their status, in addition to analyzing the company's restart plans in order to guarantee safe conditions for workers. Following the confirmation of existing safe facilities, Americas called on its employees to resume operations. The company announced that due to favorable conditions, it expects to ship new production in October.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) explained that the agreement also stipulated that a work table should be established on Sept. 14 to regulate labor relations, in order to avoid labor disputes and have a better representation for miners.
Americas announced it will target higher grade silver minerals in the Upper Zone at San Rafael and develop its EC120 project once it fully resumes operations. The new program at Cosalá Operations is expected to increase its silver production to more than 2.5Moz per year. Americas said its operations will benefit from the current high prices of silver, zinc and lead.
Cosalá Operations comprises 67 mining concessions covering approximately 19,385ha in Sinaloa. It includes the San Rafael mine, where the company produces silver, zinc and lead. Since Jan. 26 2020, the company’s operations have been illegally blocked by its union members, under the argument that it was dangerous to work. However, on several occasions, Americas explained that these claims were based on false accusations and that the real objective of the group was to illegally obtain a collective agreement and other contracts related to mining activities.
Previously, the company met with Mexican officials in an effort to resolve the dispute. Americas Gold and Silver President & CEO Darren Blasutti, had several meetings with Mexico´s former Interior Minister Olga Sánchez, Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier, Labor Minister Luisa Maria Alcalde and the Canadian Ambassador to Mexico, Graeme Clark, to solve the union problem. However, progress was slow.
The resolution comes after several efforts made by the company and the federal government, whose members have sought to address the conflict with key decision makers, while establishing an effective framework to maintain operations in the long term. Americas has mentioned that a key factor for the effective and permanent opening of the mine will be to continue to count on the government´s support.