Home > Americas, Economics, Environment, Latin America > Canadian Mining Abroad: Prosperity for Whom?

Canadian Mining Abroad: Prosperity for Whom?

Misha Warbanski writes in Rabble:

This past May, on the outskirts of San Luis Potosi, the capital city of the northeastern Mexican state of the same name, a Canadian mining company named Metallica Resources commenced operations of an open pit gold and silver mine.

Yet local residents have not exactly welcomed the company with open arms. According to a report from the non-governmental organization MiningWatch Canada, a survey indicated that between 97 and 99 per cent San Luis-area residents were opposed to the mine. Concerned about the impact of the mine on the community, Mexican citizens’ group the Broad Opposition Front (FAO) redoubled their decade-long efforts against the project.

These efforts have now brought the FAO to Canada. In anticipation of this week’s Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) meetings and the upcoming Quebec Social Forum, five members of the FAO arrived in Quebec this weekend to bring their complaints to the Canadian public and major investors in the mining company.

But not a drop to drink

One member of the delegation, Juan Carlos Ruiz Guadalajara, is a professor and organizer with the FAO. He was born and raised in the town of San Pedro, now a ghost town at the foot of Cerro de San Pedro.

Ruiz Guadalajara is gravely concerned that the mine will pollute the aquifer that provides drinking water to 40 per cent of the state—particularly when the size of the aquifer itself appears to be shrinking.

“What really lit people up was the issue of the water. Water is too rare there. What the hydrologists know now is that the water table of the aquifer is dropping five metres per year,” Ruiz Guadalajara explained through a translator. “It’s an aquifer of about 2,000 square kilometres in area. So the problem is it’s already going down. The water is getting sucked up for other reasons, so if it gets contaminated, then it’s really a problem.”

The mine’s operations seem poised to exacerbate these concerns. Estimates project the use of approximately 32 million litres of water per day by the mine, and the mine’s impact assessment indicated water contamination will occur: extraction of the precious minerals is achieved by mixing cyanide with water and pumping the toxic mixture over the ore.

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