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Over a thousand mines operate legally in Mexico. Among them, the Profepa (Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection) detected that 65% does not comply with the environmental regulation. However just 71 mining centers in operation have been closed.

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After the inspection of the over 1 thousand mines that operate legally in the country, the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection (Profepa) reported that irregularities and non-compliance with the environmental regulation in 65% of the mining projects. Derived of these endeavor, 71 establishments that hold an official register –located in the states of Puebla, Querétaro, Colima, Tabasco, Jalisco, Chiapas, Southern Baja California and Sonora- have been temporarily closed. Buenavista del Cobre, a branch of Grupo México and responsible, in August 2014, of the spill of 40 thousand cubic meters of acidulous copper sulphate in the Bacanuchi and Sonora River, in the municipality of Cananea, Sonora, is part of the black list of the Profepa.

According to the reports the Profepa has generated since 2014, around 65% of the mines operating legally in the country breach the environmental regulation. In this regard the dependency is drafting a detailed report.

After the revision, inspection and verification work are performed on the 1 thousand 130 installation and mining projects officially established, the Profepa has made public that 729, 64.51%, present some degree of non-compliance.

Due to a breach of environmental obligations, out of over 700 centers in operation and extraction identified, 71 were temporarily closed (61 with a total temporary one, 10 partial temporary cases).

Total temporary closures

instalaciones-cabalidad-300Among the closed mines in a total temporary way are: Prisciliano Portilla Márquez; JDC Minerales, SA de CV; Minerales de Norteamérica, SA de CV; Cerámicas Texturizadas de Chiapas, SA de CV; José Luis Hernández Guerrero; and Carbón Mexicano, SA de CV.

Also there are Everardo Godoy Lara; Banco de Extracción de Material Pétreo (tepetzil or tezontle); Xtrata, S de RL de CV; Mina de Barita Sanfer de Fernando Bazán Teutli, and the Proyectos de Extracción Mineral de Fierro also known as Miriam y El Faraón in the Municipality of Arteaga, Michoacán. The latter ones closed by the Attorney General’s Office in 2014 for not being in possession of the related authorizations in matter of environmental impact and the change in land use of forest grounds that issues the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), inasmuch they assured 98 thousand 671 tons of ferrous metal and 36 heavy machinery.

The Project Miriam was closed for being found on affected land by the change of use of soil on major forest grounds than those authorized by the Semarnat.

The responsible ones of El Faraón did not present the corresponding authorizations with regard to the environmental impact and change of use of soil of forest grounds.

Grinders, crushers, contractor machines, conveyors, backhoes, D-8 tractors, tipper trucks and tanker trucks, which are used for the extraction, grinding and transportation of ferrous materials, were the closed and safeguarded machinery by the personnel of the attorney general´s Office.

Partially Temporary Closures

Among the closed mines of partially temporarily closed mines is Buenavista del Cobre, SA de CV, subsidiary of Grupo México, responsible in August 2014 for the spoil of 40 thousand cubic meters of acidulous copper sulphate to the Bacanuchi and Sonora River in the municipalities of Cananea, Sonora.

Also Juan Flores Hernández or Extracción de Material Pétreo en Atemeya; Mina de Extracción de Antimonio Cerro los Paredores; Harbin López Evoli; Irk International, SAPI de CV; as well as the two instalations of the Compañía Minera del Cubo, SA de CV.

According to what was reported to the Profepa, the closed installations are located in the sates of Puebla, Querétaro, Colima, Tabasco, Jalisco, Chiapas, Southern Baja California y Sonora.

Derived from the accusations on behalf of the Assistant Attorney General of Industrial Inspection of the Profepa, the fines were imposed for a total amount of 44.29 million pesos.

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Incipient compliance of the law

Barely 35% of the mines, 401 premises complied rightfully with the environmental normativity, informed the Federal Attorney General’s Office of the Environment. Most of the part officially registered before the responsible authorities are located at the States of Puebla, Querétaro, Colima, Tabasco, Jalisco, Chiapas, Southern Baja California and Sonora.

Illegal mines

Furthermore the environmental issue of authorized mining exists in a country where an undetermined number of mines operating outside the law. In 2009 the National Iron and Steel Industries Chamber (Canacero) denounced the increase of the clandestine extraction of iron ore, mainly in the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán and La Unión, Guerrero.

The Canacero reported that at least between 2009 and 2010, the clandestine extraction based on the calculus of the companies, ascended to 40 thousand tons monthly, much of which were shipped at the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán.

In June 2014 during the Summit held at Punta Mita, in the State of Nayarit, the Pacific Alliance –integrated by Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile- announced the start of consultations to establish mechanisms to improve the fight against organized crime in the production, sale and exportation of ore, among them of gold, silver, copper and iron.

Inspections

normas-oficiales-300During the inspection visits that were held in the mining works the terms and established conditions by the environmental impact assessment were scrutinized, as well as the compliance with the established rules in the Single Environmental Permit, both issued by the Semarnat.

The enterprises devoting to the mining exploitation must be regulated in its operations with the applicable regulation of mining activities such as the NOM-120-SEMARNAT-2011; the NOM-141-SEMARNAT-2003, that establish the regulations to characterize the tailing disposals (places of destination of waste), as well as the specifications and criteria for the characterization and preparation of the site, project, construction, operation and post-operation for the trailing dams; the NOM-147-SEMARNAT/SSA1-2004, the NOM-155-SEMARNAT-2007; the NOM-157-SEMARNAT-2009, and the NOM-159-SEMARNAT-2011.

Additionally to the NOM, the authorizations and environmental licenses, the projects and mining installations have to comply with what is established in the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Protection of the Environment and the General Law of Prevention and Comprehensive Administration of Hazardous Residuals and its regulation.

(Translated by: Axel Plasa)

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Contralínea 475 / del 15 al 20 de Febrero 2016

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