SEMARNAT Denies Permit for Mining Project, but the Struggle Continues

On December 2, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) published its denial of the "environmental impact authorization" requested by San Anton de las Minas, SA de CV, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Argonaut Gold for its mining project in Cerro del Gallo in the municipality of Dolores Hidalgo. However, SEMARNAT's denial makes clear that the mining company can resubmit its project "correcting the deficiencies pointed out" by the General Directorate of Environmental Impact and Risk (DGIRA) and can challenge the DGIRA's decision before the Federal Court of Administrative Justice. (https://apps1.semarnat.gob.mx:8443/dgiraDocs/documentos/gto/resolutivos/2020/11GU2020M0117.pdf)

Before issuing the denial of authorization to the mining project, the DGIRA requested technical opinions from 10 different administrative units. Although not all of them responded, including the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), the opinion of the Urban Development and Public Works Department of the Municipality of Dolores Hidalgo was decisive, in that it showed that an open-pit mining project is incompatible with the environmental policy regarding the area where the mine is to be located, since it is designated as an ecological restoration zone. To reapply, the mining company would have to do more studies and gather more information requested by the DGIRA.

Since 2019, the Cuenca de la Independencia (Independence Watershed) has been designated as an environmental emergency region. It is important to remember that the watershed is an ecosystem in which the contamination of soil, water and air produced by an open pit mine would affect all the living beings that inhabit the area that includes the municipalities of Dolores Hidalgo, San Felipe, San Diego de la Union, San Luis de la Paz, Dr. Mora, San Jose Iturbide and San Miguel de Allende.

For these reasons, the Movement Against Open Pit Mining and Water Extractivism in the Cuenca de la Independencia insists that we need to continue defending our territory. They state that we can be sure that the mining company is sure to reapply, so we cannot let our guard down. We need to continue raising our voices so that the Cuenca de la Independencia is declared a territory free of open pit mining.

For its part, the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) together with Acción Colectiva and la Hermandad de la Cuenca, also called for "a radical change in the water management policy throughout the territory, which does not continue to preferentially favor large agro-export companies...and that the immoral concessions for a total of 1,440,000 cubic meters of water per year, in favor of the company San Antón de las Minas, SA de CV, a subsidiary of the Canadian Argonaut Gold, be revoked."

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