For the fourth time, SEMARNAT has denied the Environmental Impact Manifesto (MIA) to Argonaut Gold's Cerro del Gallo project claiming its plans were not compatible with the region's ecological programs. However, Argonaut Gold has the possibility to dispute SEMARNAT's decision in the coming days.
On Dec. 2, the General Directorate of Environmental Impact and Risk (DGIRA) published in SEMARNAT’s Ecological Gazette, that the entity rejected the MIA presented by San Antón de las Minas, a subsidiary of Argonaut Gold, in which it was requested to exploit a open pit mine at Cerro del Gallo in Durango.
SEMARNAT explained it denied the permit because the company did not fully explain the actions it would take and their possible impacts. “It is considered that the minimum information necessary to determine the environmental viability of the project was not submitted, considering that there is no clarity regarding the works and/or activities that make up the project (...) Furthermore, there is no certainty about the recent, cumulative and synergistic impacts of the project's execution, in addition to the ability to prevent, mitigate and/or compensate for these impacts,” stated SEMARNAT in its Ecological Gazette .
SEMARNAT closed the Argonaut Gold case considering it a fully concluded matter, for which the company will not be able to carry out any work or activity. However, SEMARNAT mentioned that the company can resubmit the project complying with the deficiencies indicated in the resolution. In addition, the company can impugn the decision within 15 business days after its notification.
The company's situation with SEMARNAT is not new. Between 2017, and 2019, SEMARNAT also denied the MIA of the Cerro del Gallo project, arguing that there was a lack of information and that it would have a strong impact in the region. Argonaut Gold has emphasized that the project is an excellent mining opportunity and that it will bring many local and regional benefits, for which it has sought to obtain authorization by implementing more modern approaches. However, its permit was still denied.
As for the affected communities´ accusations, there are several activists who reject the project. However, the company has said that its plan will not displace communities or affect significantly the environment as it has planned efficient management developments for water, tailings, energy, cyanide, among other chemicals. According to the company, there is strong support from the communities close to the project, but this changes as the communities are further apart since the economic impact will be less on them.
In an interview with MBN, Peter Dougherty, President and CEO of Argonaut Gold, said that the company continues to bet on Cerro del Gallo because it is the cornerstone of its strategy in Mexico. “It will be an open-pit, heap-leach operation.We are experienced in that kind of operation and have the required know-how to build all environmental safeguards. It is a project that will benefit everyone.”
The Cerro del Gallo project is a potential gold mine located in the municipality of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato. The mine is expected to produce 60,000 to 70,000oz of gold and 1.2 Moz of silver every year for the next 15 years.