Zapotec communities continue to oppose new permit for the Canadian San José mine in Oaxaca

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by Santiago Navarro F.

There is ongoing community opposition to the Canadian mining company Fortuna Silver and its subsidiary Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Last July, La Jornada reported: “The company has requested, for the second time, a new operating permit for the ‘San José II’ project, which is being analyzed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).”

El Universal adds: “[A letter from municipal authorities in Magdalena Ocotlán] asked the SEMARNAT under no circumstances to authorize the expansion of the San José II mining project, with which the Cuzcatlán miner intended to expand to more than 7,000 hectares of the Ocotlán Valley and encompass ejidal [communal agricultural] lands.”

IPS has reported that the current mine covers an area of 700 hectares.

The No-Mining Front for a Future of All has called on SEMARNAT to “not authorize the Regional MIA ‘San José II’, since the mining project has violated our collective rights, enshrined in the constitution, various international treaties and conventions ratified by Mexico.”

Pagina 3 has explained that the No-Mining Front “is made up of the Zapotec communities of Magdalena Ocotlán, Monte del Toro, La Noria de Ortiz, San Nicolas Yaxe, San Martin de los Cansecos, San Matías Chilazoa, Santa Catarina Minas, Los Ocotes and El Vergel, as well as the Coalition of United Peoples of the Ocotlán Valley (COPUVO).”

The “MIA” noted above refers to a Manifestacion de Impacto Ambiental, basically an environmental impact assessment.

On this PBI-Canada organized webinar on March 11, Educa Oaxaca noted that a decision on the permit was expected by the end of March.

It appears that SEMARNAT has now extended that deadline.

On April 2, Sin Embargo reported: “SEMARNAT reported this week that the dialogue between federal authorities and the Front began since 14 December 2020 on the orders of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Last Saturday they committed to water quality studies to detect potential damage from the waste spill on the El Coyote River in 2018, ‘which was not served by past administration authorities.’”

The story of that spill on October 8, 2018 is extensively documented here. A second instance of water contamination on July 13, 2020 is also explained in this media conference. Cuzcatlán has responded: “We reiterate our commitment to the environment and communities and reject smear campaigns.”

The Sin Embargo article published this morning further highlights: “The No-Mining Front requests a visit from Secretary María Luisa Albores to personally see the environmental and social damage caused to them by extractive activity and understand why they demand that the mine be cancelled.”

Beyond the concerns about water, there is the issue of consent. As PBI-Mexico has highlighted: “Mexican and international organizations report that the company obtained a permit for extraction from local authorities, without informing the community, violating their rights to consultation and to free, prior and informed consent.”

We also recall that in September 2018, El Universal quoted Educa Oaxaca, Consorcio Oaxaca and others who stated: “It should be noted that in the ‘San José’ project operated by Fortuna Silver Mines, four murders derived directly from the mining conflict between 2010 and 2012 have been documented, in addition to eight people injured by firearms in the same period. Currently, four defenders have precautionary measures issued by the DDHPO [Ombudsperson for Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca].”

PBI-Canada continues to follow this situation closely.

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