(Xalapa, Veracruz, México) Activists, academics, members of civil society organizations, and representatives from rural communities insist on the total and immediate cancelation of all open-pit mining projects in the municipalities of Alto Lucero and Actopan, on the central coast of Veracruz in eastern Mexico. Members of the coalition Veracruz Free from Toxic Mining released a statement signed by more than 50 civil society organizations to pressure Canadian mining companies, Candelaria Mining Corp. and Almaden Minerals Ltd., to relinquish all rights to mining concessions and other related permits.
These corporations have publicly expressed their interest in exploiting gold and silver deposits in the Manuel Díaz mountains near Mexico’s gulf coast. The coalition made its announcement following Candelaria Mining Corp’s submission of an environmental impact assessment to federal environmental authorities. Claiming to have suffered unexpected political pressure, Candelaria was then forced to withdraw its environmental impact assessment on October 3, effectively placing its mining activities on hold.
The activists have also pressured local, state, and federal authorities to take any and all available measures to stop the development of six open-pits projected as part of gold and silver projects in the area. Their statement aims to remind the government of its duty to protect the environment and the rights of the inhabitants of affected communities.
According to Leticia Valenzuela of LAVIDA, a state-wide environment defense coalition, Candelaria Mining was forced to withdraw its environmental impact assessment due to the strength of arguments presented to federal environmental authorities by dozens of renowned academics from Veracruz University (UV), the National Autonomous Universtity of Mexico (UNAM), and the National Ecology Institute (INECOL), as well as civil society organizations. “Our coalition proved that the mining projects under consideration will cause irreversible damage to local mountain ranges, ecosystems, agricultural land, and populated areas that are at risk from air, water, and ground contamination.” The Paila mountain houses a rich and unique ecosystem where endemic species such as the tropical oak (quercus oleoide) and chestnut dioone (dioon edule) are found. This area constitutes a source of germplasm for Mexico’s eastern coastal region.
The proposed Caballo Blanco project (of which the Paila concession is a part) lies scarcely three kilometers away from Mexico’s only nuclear power plant: Laguna Verde. “The absence of regulation preventing the development of a large scale, open-pit mining operation next to a nuclear power plant is baffling. This oversight generates risks that should concern public opinion worldwide,” said Valenzuela.
Juan Higueredo, speaking on behalf of people who live near the proposed mining project, stated that Candelaria Mining does not count have their consent to pursue extractive activities. Higueredo underlined that Candelaria Mining and Almaden Minerals must relinquish all of their mineral explotation permits. Only then will tranquility return to already affected communites in the municipalities of Alto Lucero and Actopan.
The members of Veracruz Free from Toxic Mining stated that they will continue to work to prevent the destruction of their territory by mining corporations currently in the area or to come. “This small victory encourages us to redouble our efforts to rid Veracruz from destructive large-scale mineral extraction projects,” commented Emilio Rodríguez of LAVIDA.