PBI-Mexico accompanied Educa Oaxaca opposes a new permit for the Vancouver-based Fortuna mine in San José del Progreso

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by El Muro.

On July 27, the Oaxacan Collective in Defence of the Territories posted this statement that reports that the Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines Inc., has submitted an environmental impact assessment (MIA) for approval by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).

That MIA, which has not yet been approved by SEMARNAT, seeks a 10-year extension for the San José Mine situated near the Zapotec village of San José del Progreso in the state of Oaxaca in south-western Mexico.

This mine was first developed in 2009, shifted into production in September 2011, and now the company needs this permit to continue its operations beyond 2021.

The statement posted by the Oaxacan Collective further notes that Fortuna argues in the MIA it submitted to SEMARNAT that the proposed San José II mine, a 7,000-hectare expansion of the existing 700-hectare mine, is not a new project nor an extension of the existing mine, but rather a previously developed project.

The San José mine has a controversial history.

NACLA reports: “In March 2009, a group of residents protested this violation of [their right to free, prior and informed consent by] setting up an encampment at the entrance to the mine. In May, 1,000 state and federal police—acting at the request of the mining company and its local political allies—evicted protesters using helicopters, tear gas, and dogs.”

And El Universal has reported that there has been four deaths and eight people shot in direct relation to the mine between 2010 and 2012.

Those deaths included community defenders Bernardo Méndez who was killed on January 18, 2012 after he and others confronted a municipal crew working on a water pipeline they suspected would divert water for use at the mine and Bernardo Vásquez who was killed on March 15, 2012 as he travelled back home from the Oaxaca airport.

Then in October 2018, residents of the town of Magdalena Ocotlán stated that heavy rains resulted in mine waste overflowing into the Coyote River leaving behind contaminated mud in the vicinity of the community’s drinking wells.

Last month, concerns were raised for a second time that the mine had polluted local water sources, this time a rainwater catchment well in Magdalena Ocotlán.

On February 20 of this year, El Muro reported on the No-to-Mining Front (Frente No a la Minería) announcement that SEMARNAT had denied the authorization of the MIA for the San José II mine. As such, it would appear the MIA submitted by Cuzcatlán/Fortuna on July 7 is a second application for this mine.

The No-to-Mining Front, PBI-Mexico accompanied Educa Oaxaca and others reject both the San José and San José II mines.

The timeline for SEMARNAT’s review and decision on the MIA is not clear at this time.

For more in Spanish, please see this 7-minute video by Codigo DH (which is also accompanied by PBI-Mexico) that features Rosalinda Dionisio Sánchez, a member of the Coordinadora de Pueblos Unidos del Valle de Ocotlán (COPUVO), and that notes that Fortuna, through four subsidiaries, holds 26 mining concessions “with which it has stripped indigenous and peasant peoples and communities of 80 thousand hectares.”

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