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Mexico, Goldgroup removed Caballo Blanco mining project

Goldgroup has withdrawn its application to SEMARNAT (the Mexican Environment Ministry) for the Caballo Blanco mining project, as it is environmentally damaging and does not have the support of the people of Veracruz. Civil society has won the first round, but the company is threatening to reapply under the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto.

Xalapa, Eqz, Veracruz, 18th September 2012

Finally, almost 9 months since Goldgroup presented its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Caballo Blanco mining project to SEMARNAT, the company has withdrawn it, due to the overwhelming opinion of scientific experts, who gave irrefutable evidence of the untruthful nature of this document. It only takes into account the first phase of activities, thereby failing to consider the project in its entirety (55 thousand hectares); it ignores the effect on biodiversity in the area, unique in the world e.g. going from 5 million migratory birds of prey each year to a corridor less than 20 km wide, cycad communities which are over 2500 years old, and the last remains of the tropical oak forests, home to endangered species of wild animals.

Despite the torrent of scientific arguments against this EIS, SEMARNAT was unable to reach the definitive decision that this project is not viable, and deny authorization due to the clear contravention of environmental protection laws, ecocide and the crime against endangered species in this area, as well as the false information provided by the company on the real environmental impacts, even in the exploratory phase. It is therefore disgraceful that both SEMARNAT and PROFEPA (Mexican Environmental Protection Agency), rather than listen to the scientific arguments, the demands of civil society, and legal requirements, have chosen to prioritize the interests of the company. The company has used up all the available legal avenues in this process, which was itself declared null and void because these government bodies were incapable of pronouncing the negative result which the Caballo Blanco mining project deserved. PROFEPA, in particular, has until now paid no attention to popular condemnation of the adverse effects caused by the construction of mineshafts, despite documentation of this flagrant violation of environmental rules and the legal obligation for the company to present an EIS covering the totality of its exploration activities and not only the specific activity of opening mineshafts. This demonstrates that the company is continuing to act illegally in complicity with federal authorities.

We would like to acknowledge the efforts of civil society and the scientific community throughout this process to prevent the establishment of toxic mining in our state; housewives, students, workers, professionals, civic organizations, and all those who signed the Pact to Keep Veracruz Free from Toxic Mining, as well as the State Congress and Government, who responded to the needs of Veracruz civil society. However, we call on you all to remain alert in view of the public declaration of the Goldgroup company that it will resubmit the application for this mining project once the political scene in this country changes, and Sr. Enrique Peña Nieto assumes the leadership of the National Executive. Right now, we call on Sr. Nieto to respect State sovereignty, to listen to legitimate social demands, and to ignore the private interests which exploit their power to get their own way.

The Mining Chamber of Mexico has focused its efforts and resources on lobbying candidates, who have since become civil servants or elected popular representatives, to sell them the false idea that mining can be sustainable. However, as demonstrated throughout Latin America, toxic mining is not, and can never be, sustainable. It is ecocide and lethal for the population: the Caballo Blanco mining project cannot be considered sustainable. In order to extract a quantity of gold of less than 1 metre cubed and a similar amount of silver, it would destroy the natural resources of the Mexican people for a period of 7 years, it would use 35 thousand tonnes of explosives, 7 thousand tonnes of cyanide, 10,220 million litres of water, 144 million litres of diesel and it would remove 120 million tonnes of stone and ground. In seven years, the Canadian miners would destroy the natural heritage which took millions of years to develop, they would affect the health and social fabric of communities living nearby, and they would set a precedent for this kind of extractive activity on Veracruz territory.

Furthermore, the Caballo Blanco mining project specifically contravenes international agreements signed by our country with regard to nuclear security. The project is located less than 3km from the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant, 2km from the PEMEX gas pipelines which supply industry in the north of the country and 500m from the CFE high-voltage power lines. NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD HAS APPROVED a project of this magnitude, next to a nuclear power station and in a zone which is often affected by hurricanes of increasing intensity due to climate change.

For all these reasons, and based on the scientific arguments given in the Caballo Blanco project’s own EIS, which remodels the ecological, historical, archaeological, tourism and cultural value of the region, this area must immediately be declared a Protected Area; in addition, in view of its location less than 3kms from a nuclear power plant, the area should remain protected and a moratorium should bedeclared on all mining in the buffer zone around the nuclear plant.

Перевод этого текста выполнен добровольцем из группы за жилищные права без границ МСЖ:

Juliette Rutherford


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