A group of activists from the Ixtacamaxtitlán municipality, located in the Puebla state of central Mexico, presented a letter to the country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, where they state that Minera Gorrión’s Ixtaca project represents “a threat to their lives.”
Gorrión is a subsidiary of Canada’s Almaden Minerals (TSE: AMM) and the Ixtaca deposit is said to be one a multimillion ounce mine. It was discovered by Almaden in 2010 and acquired by staking up to 1044 hectares of land. The company already completed a feasibility study and is now focussed on taking it into production.
However, Almaden has been facing the opposition of some farmers and indigenous community members for a while.
The activists that approached López Obrador this week belong to the Union of Communities and Ejidos in Defense of the Land, Water, and Life, known as Atcolhua in Spanish. In the letter they gave to the head of state who was visiting the town of Huauchinango, they say that the project should be canceled because the company has moved forward with its development since 2012 without properly consulting them.
They quote a Human Rights Impact Assessment they performed with the support of local and international NGOs, which concluded that Ixtaca would violate the social guarantees of the people in Ixtacamaxtitlán, as it would cause severe environmental damages, particularly to the Apulco river which is a source of fresh water for domestic, recreational and agricultural uses. The evaluation states the company has not disclosed proper information regarding such impacts of the project.
According to the members of Atcolhua, the assessment has been ignored by the miner and the institutions it was presented to, including the Secretariat of Environment and National Resources, the Federal Procuracy of Environment, the National Water Commission, the Secretariat of Economy, and the National Commission of Human Rights.
But back in 2017, Almaden announced the completion of its own social impact assessment, which was carried out by GMI Consulting. Such evaluation found that the Vancouver-based firm had consulted widely with the focus area communities, that the Ixtaca project was well understood, and that people had had the opportunity to express their views on the impacts of the mine.
In 2019, specifically on January 21, the miner also submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment to the Secretariat of Environment and National Resources. Daniel Santamaría, Vice-president of Minera Gorrión, told local media that the document addresses concerns such as the construction of a dry tailings facility that does not require the use of cyanide.
"Isotanks will be used in a closed circuit for the leaching process. This prevents contact with the surroundings. Also, we will pay special attention to dust control,” he said.
Both Alamden and Minera Gorrión were approached for comment regarding the letter sent to the Mexican president but MINING.com did not receive a response by publication time.