There are 73 mining projects in natural protected areas in Mexico, one in a Unesco heritage site, but they are allowed to operate due to a law that defines mining as a public good.
That would change, however, if the Senate ratifies the General Ecological Balance Law that would ban mining in protected natural areas.
It is not known whether the new law would revoke previously granted mining concessions.
The Department of the Environment has identified 11 highly contaminated locations in protected natural areas caused by mining, while many other mining projects threaten wildlife.
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, protected by Unesco, on the border between Michoacán and the State of Mexico, is the site of a mining project operated by Grupo México, the country’s largest mining company.
The Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, home to the peninsular pronghorn and the gray whale mating and birth site, has four mining projects. Another mining site is the Colorado River Delta, home to the endangered vaquita marina.
Two areas requiring Unesco classification have exceptional mining concessions: the Valle de los Cirios protected area in Baja California and the indigenous area of Wirikuta in San Luis Potosí.
Manuel Llano, director of investigations for the NGO Cartocrítica, detailed the extent of the problem. “There is an area of 2.4 million hectares that overlap between mining concessions and protected natural areas… There are at least 400 concession mining titles… within protected natural areas. The main one is Grupo México which owns 84 mining concessions ”, he declared.
“There is the accumulation of water, the destruction of habitats, accidents, neglect, neglect and there is corruption…”, he added.
Edmundo del Pozo de Fundar, another NGO, called for the mining law to be amended. “We do not imagine that in nature reserves, they would authorize mining activities and mega-mining or hydrocarbon projects, but it is the reality … There must be a fundamental modification of the mining law to repeal the preference for the public good, which violates human rights, “he said.
“Behind the mining activity lie criminalization, violence, the collusion of mining companies with organized crime,… and a series of attacks against communities and land defenders,” he added.
Fundar has documented more than 800 socio-environmental conflicts and 440 attacks on land defenders in connection with mining and extraction projects.
Sources: Milenio (sp), Sin Embargo (sp)