Fortuna Silver Mines’ subsidiary, Minera Cuzcatlán, announced that SEMARNAT authorized the expansion of its San Jose mine, Oaxaca. The approval comes after months of demands from workers, residents of nearby communities and company representatives to attend to the case, since without the approval the mine would have had to close operations.
After SEMARNAT denied Minera Cuzcatlán’s permit in August, the company appealed for a second evaluation of its environmental impact authorization (EIA). Minera Cuzcatlán also continued its dialogue with SEMARNAT, which after a technical evaluation confirmed that the San Jose operation complied with all environmental obligations. As a result, SEMARNAT subsequently reevaluated the company's application and approved its EIA.
In addition to the technical evaluation, Fortuna Silver explained that the San Jose project was subject to 13 environmental audits by PROFEPA in December, in which not once was the mining company accused of pollution or environmental damage. The company explained that one of its main priorities has always been to have responsible operations and management of critical resources such as water, which comes from the Ocotlan Sewage Treatment Plant and rain storage.
In 2009, SEMARNAT granted an environmental permit to Minera Cuzcatlán that authorized the construction, execution and maintenance of the San Jose Mine until October 2021. In May, the company applied to extend its permit for an additional 10 years. The extension is a standard procedure that is generally granted when companies comply with the requirements, the company reported. Nevertheless, the application was rejected. As a result, for months the company was only able to continue operating thanks to a temporary injunction from a federal court.
In November, approximately 800 workers from the Minera Cuzcatlán and residents of San Jose del Progreso demanded the authorization of the company's environmental permit. Furthermore, in December, San Jose del Progeso´s Mayor, Amador Vázquez Gómez, asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to intervene for Minera Cuzcatlán’s permitting issue since without the approval of SEMARNAT, the company could not continue operating.
Vázquez told the president that Minera Cuzcatlán has always been environmentally responsible and that its environmental impact is minor since its operations are underground. In addition, he stressed that without the permit, more than 1,200 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs would be lost. López Obrador then replied that he would review the case and find a solution.