Monday, February 22, 2010 — Barnard Thompson, MexiData.info (Reprinted in its entirety with permission) http://www.mexidata.info/id2566.html
Mexico Denies Gold Mining Permit to Canadian Company
Last December the Mexican media, in part reviewed by Frontera NorteSur, reported that the door could be closed to some foreign-owned mining operations in Mexico — the case in point being a planned open pit gold mine in Baja California Sur (Canadian Mining Companies at Odds with Many in Mexico).
Well, that door has now been slammed shut, in large part due to the opposition of local residents and activists — which just might be a harbinger of what to expect in the future.
According to the story at the time, area residents opposed a mine within the buffer zone of the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, the Paredones Amarillos gold mine, planned byCanadian-owned Vista Gold Corporation. The mining company was awaiting a final step in the process, a requisite federal land use permit, in order to begin operations towards the extraction of an estimated 1.2 million ounces of gold over a 9.3 year period.
Critics contend that metals and chemicals used in the mining operations could contaminate vital ground water supplies (including seepage from a planned sluice residue basin), damage ecosystems, and threaten public health. Further, they express concern for coastal sea turtle and whale habitats that could be jeopardized from the construction of a proposed desalination plant.
Vista Gold President Fred Earnest, and project manager Carlos Calderón, both disputed the contentions that Paredones Amarillos would cause ecological harm. According to Calderón, Vista Gold would use environmentally sensitive, state-of-the-art mining technology and practices, and uphold “the highest international standards.”
Over the past two months opponents of the Paredones Amarillos mining project have been meeting with state of Baja California Sur officials, and on February 4, 2010 the Mexico City daily El Universal reported: “Baja California Sur Governor Narciso Agúndez Montaño has promised to work for the stoppage of the Paredones Amarillos gold mine project.”
The newspaper said that Ariel Ruiz, a representative of the Baja California Sur “Water is worth more than gold” organization, told the governor of concerns due to the negative social and environmental impacts the open pit gold mine could cause in the area, especially due to the risk of contamination to aquifers in the region.
“We are expressing our concern because the costs that the mine could bring are much greater than the benefits. Not only is it a community, it is the entire region that could be affected,” Ruiz said
Ruiz added that Governor Agúndez supported his point of view, and the governor would ask the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) not to allow the project to go forward.
On February 19 El Universal reported: “The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources denied the Paredones Amarillas project change of land use application, for the operation of an open pit gold mine in the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve.”
“The Mexican Environmental Law Center (Cemda) reported that, according to a communiqué from the Canadian company Vista Gold, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, the federal agency rejected the application as it deemed the information insufficient in order to certify that the mine would not cause erosion or an impact on biodiversity,” the newspaper stated.
“Interviewed by El Universal, Agustín Bravo Gaxiola, an attorney with Cemda Northwest, said that the majority of the claims in the company’s technical justificative study ‘lacked support.’ He noted that the investors must certify they are the property owners, or that they have a concession for the area. The permits they have are for temporary occupation, he emphasized, [and] not for operations on national properties as are most of the lands that they want to exploit, and that were previously designated for preservation by the National Protected Areas Commission (Conanp).”
— Barnard Thompson, MexiData.info
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