Zacatecas Silver recently confronted criticism regarding the impact of its activities on surrounding communities, of which some have protested the La Esperanza Mining Project arguing it could damage the environment. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) backed the protests while announcing it would block open pit mining projects. Nevertheless, the company still throws its weight behind the project.
In an interview with BNAmericas, Bryan Slusarchuk, CEO, Zacatecas Silver, said the project will be environmentally and socially responsible. “The Esperanza project has strong support from the local community, which was strengthened through extensive stakeholder engagement carried out by Alamos Gold. We plan to continue to move the project forward and are targeting an Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) for submission by the end of 2022,” Slusarchuk added.
Slusarchuk stated that even though SEMARNAT may not be awarding new permits for open pit mining projects, the environmental impact of the project should be determined through the EIA procedures established by the Mexican law. “Permitting for Esperanza will follow all government procedures and regulations and we will welcome interaction with all levels of government,” he added.
While mining requires large volumes of water and La Esperanza could lead to water shortages, Slusarchuk said that the project will not compete with any community for water supply. On the contrary: the company helped them to guarantee sufficient water during the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that the advancement of the project will give the company a platform to work on improvements for the community’s water distribution system.
Slusarchuk aims to continue community support initiatives despite resistance from some inhabitants. He considers these efforts a long-term term solution that is beginning to bear fruit. The company is mainly focused on developing sustainable agriculture, education, health and water projects.
Despite the challenges, Slusarchuk remains optimistic about the long-term outlook of the mining industry, as evidenced by the acquisition of the La Esperanza Project in April 2022 from Alamos Gold, which has an estimated value of US$60 million.
Zacatecas Silver projected an investment of over US$500 million for the next 10 years, as well as the creation of 1,200 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs. In addition, the company highlights the implementation of its New Model of Socially and Environmentally Responsible Mining, with which it based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Last year, Minister of the Environment María Luisa Albores declared that there was indeed a de facto ban on open pit mining projects since president Obrador ordered it, but it was not confirmed as official policy.