Environmental Groups Oppose Gold Mining Project

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*Sit-ins currently taking place at government offices in La Paz


Anti-mining protests are heating up once again in La Paz.  Residents and environmentalists are up in arms with opposition over the proposed mining project Los Cardones.

Opponents have gathered over 18,000 signatures on a petition against the mining project and over the past few weeks, have taken part in sit-ins at both the Governor’s Office and at the Municipality of La Paz’s government offices.

The environmental impact study for Los Cardones is currently being reviewed by the federal Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) SEMARNAT

#YoSoy132Los Cabos, Soy Responsable, Soy Ciudadano, Observatorio Ciudadano del Agua y Saneamiento de La Paz, CEMDA, en Defensa del Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Rural Sustentable, Consejo Asesor de la Reserva de la Biósfera Sierra La Laguna, Niparaja and Ejido El Sargento-La Ventana, BCS are some of the 31 civil organizations that have united together to fight for the safety of Baja’s drinking water.

Several environmental groups and experts are opposing mining projects, such as Los Cardones, on environmental and public health grounds.

Anticipated risks of mega-mining projects include contaminated ground and drinking water, cyanide pollution and high levels of dust laced with arsenic and heavy metals. Several proposed mines are located less than 70 km away from La Paz and on the edge of the Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere.

The Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere is recognized by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world biosphere. It is a mountain range that lies at the southern end of BCS. It is home to distinctive flora and fauna and has many endemic species and subspecies.

The Biosphere reserve was established by a Mexican presidential decree of June 6, 1994, which designated a core area and buffer zones. The core area is centered on the higher-elevation oak-pine forests, while the transition area includes the communities of Todos Santos, El Pescadero, El Triunfo, San Antonio, San Bartolo, Buena Vista, Los Barriles, Las Cuevas, Santiago and Miraflores.

The Sierra de la Laguna is the source of groundwater for a large part of Baja California Sur. Contaminated drinking water is not the only concern for those against gold mining in the area. The water is also used for agricultural irrigation and water for cattle.

Locals are torn.  Some are in favor of allowing mining companies to come and provide jobs to members in their communities. Others who make a living in the small surrounding communities of La Paz in agriculture are opposed to the project, believing that agriculture and tourism are the sustainable future for their families.

Mining companies have claimed they will provide jobs for those in need. Opponents argue that more jobs will be lost than added to the economy in just the agricultural sector alone. Organic farming, which is growing in popularity in southern Baja, would be wiped out completely.

So far, there are 33 mining concessions just in Baja California Sur that have been approved.

Open-pit mining has been rejected before in BCS. In November 2012, SEMARNAT refused to allow open-pit mining near the Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur.  The rejected project is currently named “Los Cardones”. It has changed names a few times. On October 6, 2013, Invecture agreed to buy the Los Cardones gold project from Vista Gold for $13 million.

SEMARNAT has until June to make a decision on the environmental impact study of Los Cardones.

If you are looking for more information about mining in Baja California Sur, visit the webpages www.defiendelasierra.org and www.frenteaguayvida-bcs.org.

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