The bad omens have already reached us…mining takes gold and sows death

The bad omens have already reached us…mining takes gold and sows death
The bad omens have already reached us…mining takes gold and sows death

13 years after the El Águila mine came into operation, it turned the water of the Rio Grande into poison, where the fish are already deformed, dried up springs and waterholes, contaminated wells and generated diseases such as cancer. Residents of San Pedro Quiatoni maintain a legal fight, but the President, Semarnat and Profepa have abandoned them.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: PEDRO MATÍAS / FOOTER

San Pedro Quiatoni, Oaxaca – There, standing on the top of the hill, while they contemplate the sinister turquoise blue beauty of the tailings dam of the El Águila mine, a subsidiary of the American company Gold Resource Corporation, community members and authorities in defense of the territory of this Zapotec municipality narrate their misfortune:

“What seemed so far away has already reached us, bad omens have been unleashed: The water has turned into poison, the springs and springs have dried up, drinking water wells have been cancelled, the fish are already deformed and the people suffers from diseases such as cancer.” Zapotec community members of San Pedro Quiatoni

13 years after the El Águila mine in San José de Gracia began operations, death has already been present.

Their waste wreaks havoc on water resources, as well as the flora and fauna of this municipality.

Although the community members of San Pedro Quiatoni maintain a legal struggle and have requested the intervention of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and bodies such as Semarnat and Profepa, the reality is that they have been abandoned.

Community members who have seen their lands affected by mining waste

Meanwhile, the mining company Gold Resource Corporation is gloating about its profits obtained in the first quarter of 2024.

On its page it reports a “cash balance” earnings of 5.7 million dollars, equivalent to almost 96 million pesos or more than one million pesos daily, Services for Alternative Education (Educa) revealed.

But he also boasts that he is “pleased” to announce the positive results of his Don David mine, which is located in the same region.

There it produced and sold only in the first quarter of 2024:

  • 3,557 ounces of gold
  • 216,535 ounces of plant
  • 1,682 tons of zinc
  • 264 tons of copper
  • 667 tons of lead.

On the other hand, Profepa imposes ridiculous sanctions, such as the one in 2018 when it only punished the mining company Gold Resorce Corporation with 9.8 million pesos because it operated, for years, without a single environmental license. On that occasion, the former PRI member and now Morenista Alejandro Murat supported the mining investment.

The fresh water of the Rio Grande turned into salt water. Now it is a sea of ​​death with so many toxins.

REMEMBERING THE SOURCE OF LIFE

Memories crowd together among the community members of San Pedro Quiatoni, Soledad Salinas, San Pablo Lachiriega and La Mancornada, who were guides for this reporter during the tour in this community.

From one of the beaches of the Río Grande they narrate:

“Here we bathed, swam and fished. The Rio Grande was our source of life because it served to irrigate the crops from which we eat, but 13 years ago it became a sea of ​​death.”

The sky of this microregion of the Sierra Sur is clear and witnesses the transformation of its environment.

The water of the Rio Grande is clear, but no one dares to swim anymore because you get hives on your skin, and the fresh water is now salty.

And since 2011, when the El Águila Project – a subsidiary of the American mining company Gold Resource Corporation in San José de Gracia – began, calamities have been unleashed.

The damage to biodiversity and people is already irreversible, while the case remains in court through protection 178/2020.

However, the entire town demands the immediate cancellation of the mine.

On November 28, 2021, the case reached the Presidency of the Republic.

They delivered a document to request the intervention of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and thus expedite the judicial process.

They sought to obtain a ruling that would cancel the concession of the American mining company.

Also, on October 3, 2022, they requested a hearing from the head of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), María Luisa Albores González.

And this is the date that there is no response.

MINING PANORAMA IN OAXACA

A report from Services for Alternative Education (Educa) revealed that in Oaxaca, according to official information, until 2020 there were 294 mining concessions in force.

Of those, the Ministry of Economy, together with the Mexican Geological Service, have registered 45 mining projects in the state of Oaxaca.

From those:

  • 36 are in the exploration stage,
  • 2 are in the development stage (Trinidad Norte and Monte Albán I),
  • 3 in the commercial exploitation stage (San José, Alta Gracia and El Águila)
  • 4 in the postponement stage (Yolanda, Cobre Grande, Santa María Ecatepec and El Tejón).

The Gold Resource Corporation website recognizes that it reinforced its mining objectives in Mexico.

Mainly in its El Águila project where gold and silver are extracted, mainly.

It is currently made up of 10 mining concessions for a total of 20,055 hectares.

Multiple volcanic domes of various scales, and probably unvented intrusive domes dominate the geology of the San José de Gracia Minería district in Oaxaca.

The American mining company highlighted that the inclusion of Ron Little, along with that of two other executives in December 2022, optimizes the expansion strategy of its project in Oaxaca.

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This work was originally published in Pie de Página, which is part of the Media Alliance of the Red de Periodistas de a Pie. Here you can check his publication.


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