The court invalidates the concessions granted to a Canadian company planning a mine in Puebla

The first room of Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation decided yesterday Wednesday to invalidate two mining concessions granted to Almaden Mineralsa Canadian mining company that plans to open an open-pit gold and silver mine in ixtacamaxtitlanin the mountains of northern Puebla.

political animal published a survey in August 2020 which documented that this mining project will require more than 5 million liters of water per day in a indigenous community suffering from severe droughtand that, for this reason, the citizens of the communities surrounding the project, such as the ejido of Tecoltemihad filed injunctions against the concession to this Canadian company and against the mining law itself.

Well, now the First Chamber of the Supreme Court decided yesterday unanimously to grant protection to the ejido of Tecoltemi with respect to the two mining concessions of Almaden Minerals and ordered that these remain, for the time being, “without substance”; that is to say, they remain without effect.

The reason why Mexico’s highest court issued this decision is that it found that the authorizations granted by the federal government in 2003 and 2009 to this Canadian company had been executed without first doing aboriginal consultation to the communities of Ixtacamaxtitlán, as required by the Mexican Constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization signed by Mexico.

Read: Semarnat rejects mining project by Canadian company in Puebla community due to drought

Civil organizations supporting communities opposed to the mining project, such as Fundar, Poder and the Council of Tiyat Tlali, celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision, calling it a historic “achievement”.

“It is extremely relevant for Tecoltemi and for other communities in Ixtacamaxtitlán and the rest of the country, it is the first time that the Supreme Court has recognized the violation of the right to consultation and consent in the case of mining concessions , and that it orders their cancellation as a consequence of said violation”, they underlined in a joint press release.

“The sentence of the project is not final”: Minera

However, the Canadian miner Almaden Minerals responded in another statement on Thursday that the Supreme Court’s decision is not final, nor does it mean that the concessions cannot be reactivated once the Ministry of Economy, which is the one that issues the mining concessions , complies with the obligation to make the indigenous consultations.

In addition, Almaden Minerals pointed out that the decision announced yesterday by the Court is still part of a “draft sentence” which is not final.

“The Supreme Court has yet to proceed with the expansion of the final draft sentence, which may involve modifications to the draft sentence described”, underlined the mining company, which estimated that this final enlargement of the draft sentence may still last. between one and two months.

“Minera Gorrión will review the final decision when notified and will interact with various government departments and local community representatives to gain a better understanding of the possible scope of their mining concession titles. All this before determining the next steps to follow,” reported Almaden Minerals, who also clarified that to date there are no established deadlines for the consultation process that the Ministry of Economy must carry out. with the indigenous communities of Ixtacamaxtiltán.

On the other hand, in addition to the discussion on the amparo filed by the Tecoltemi community, the Supreme Court ruled on the possible unconstitutionality of the Mining law from 1992.

The indigenous community of Tecoltemi has also claimed the unconstitutionality of four articles of the said law, including the one that refers to the fact that mining activity is “preferred to any other use of the land”, because it considers that this article promotes violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in favor of large mining companies.

Lee: Canadian company expects to make 6 billion pesos with mine in impoverished Puebla community

However, the Court held that the said law was not unconstitutional and dismissed the complaint of the Tecoltemi indigenous community.

“We regret that the Supreme Court has lost the opportunity to analyze in depth a law which, by giving preference to mining activities, violates the right to land and territory of indigenous peoples, as well as the right to property of ejidos,” Fundar lamented. , Poder and the Council of Tiyat Tlali in the aforementioned joint statement, which you can read in full here.

A controversial mining project

In a survey published on August 31, 2020, political animal documented that mining company Almaden Minerals plans to open a gold and silver mine that will consume more than 5 million liters of water per day in Ixtacamaxtilán, an indigenous community in the northern highlands of Puebla that suffers from periods severe drought.

To obtain such a quantity of water, equivalent to filling 730 Olympic swimming pools per year for more than a decade, the company has promised to use rain falling from the sky.

However, hydrologists, environmentalists and civil organizations have warned that in a region plagued by drought, there is no certainty that enough rain will be available to guarantee the supply of the mine and the communities of Ixtacamaxtitlán. , a municipality in the northern highlands of Puebla where more than 24 thousand people. They therefore accused the Canadian company that in reality it would take the missing water from the Tecolutla River and its tributaries, such as the Apulco River, which flows just two kilometers from the mine.

In addition, for the extraction of gold and silver, Almaden Minerals will use explosives and chemicals such as cyanide, and will generate tons of waste. And this, specialists have warned, will also trigger the risk of these tailings leaking and contaminating the Apulco River, affecting not only the communities near the mine, but also the more than 395,000 people who live in 13 municipalities of Puebla that the river crosses. river. towards the coast of Veracruz, until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.

Civil organizations such as Poder, Fundar and the Center for Rural Development Studies have denounced that during the first phase of land exploration, the mining company had already caused damage to natural springs, affecting farmers who live water to survive.

Almaden Minerals responded that, despite the droughts, the mine will be fed by rain, which it will store in two dams it will build, and that it will even donate the remaining water from the project to the communities, as published in its environmental impact statement.

He also pointed out in the report published by this media at the end of August that he will not suck water from any river and that he will not open a well. Although the environmental impact study of the project introduced a nuance that environmentalists and academics have denounced as “the gateway” to the use of the river’s water: the mining company admitted that in addition to rain, it will be fed “from groundwater”, although he stressed that this is water that has already accumulated where the mine will be drilled.

Regarding environmental effects, Almaden Minerals responded that it will store the waste in dry and filtered repositories, i.e. already purified of acids, to “reduce” the contamination footprint.

The population of Ixtacamaxtitlán, meanwhile, is divided.

On the one hand, there are citizens who are favorable to the mining company, which has promised that it will employ 600 people in poor communities, and that at the end of the 11-year life of the project, it will leave in the coffers of Puebla and the municipality more than 2 billion pesos for the payment of taxes.

And, on the other hand, there are those who reject the mine because of its environmental implications in an area marked by drought, and who denounce that the Canadian mining company did not consult the aboriginal peoples. This group also criticizes the fact that behind the altruistic actions that the Canadian mining company presumes in the project area, such as equipping schools or donating wheelchairs, hide juicy profits for its coffers: more than 6 billion net pesos for the sale of tons of gold and silver.

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