SEMARNAT Makes Typo in Minera Cuzcatlán’s EIA
Mining company Minera Cuzcatlán received a message from SEMARNAT, in which the environmental ministry explains that it made a mistake in its Environmental Impact Authorization (EIA). As a result, the company’s permit has been granted for fewer years than agreed upon. Minera Cuzcatlán said it is working to resolve this matter and reconfirm its previously granted extension.
Minera Cuzcatlán was notified through its owner Fortuna Silver Mines that its EIA extension for the San José mine contains a typographical error: instead of a 12-year extension, SEMARNAT granted 2 years. Therefore, the company's permit has effectively been reduced by 10 years.
Minera Cuzcatlán reported it is working with the authorities to resolve the issue. However, because the company found it difficult to establish a dialogue, it also initiated a legal process to challenge SEMARNAT’s notification and reconfirm the 12-year extension granted in December 2021.
The original permit was granted to the company in 2009, after SEMARNAT authorized the construction, execution and maintenance of the San José Mine until Oct. 2021. In May of that year, the company applied to extend its permit for an additional 10 years. This extension is a standard procedure, generally granted when companies comply with certain requirements. Nevertheless, the application was rejected. As a result, the company could only continue operating thanks to a temporary injunction from a federal court.
After months of demands from workers, residents of nearby communities and company representatives to attend to the case, the company received the approval of SEMARNAT for the expansion of its San José mine. Without the approval, the mine would have had to close its operations.
Minera Cuzcatlán argued that it has solid grounds to initiate legal action because it explicitly requested a 12-year extension. Consequently, the term of 12 years is repeatedly mentioned throughout the company’s request, which was accepted by SEMARNAT. In addition, the company emphasized that no other term was contemplated in the procedures nor discussed with SEMARNAT.
Furthermore, the company's legal advisors said that SEMARNAT cannot blame a typographical error to modify the term of its EIA since the extension is consistent with the company’s request and the document itself, both meant to be verified by SEMARNAT.
Minera Cuzcatlán explained it previously received SEMARNAT’s approval to construct infrastructure works at its San José mine for a period of 12 years, consistent with the extension of the EIA permit. This could prove that both the company and the authorities considered a 12-year term.
Despite the challenges, the company assured that its operations are not currently compromised. Minera Cuzcatlán will continue working to promote its projects and their benefits to surrounding communities.