Los Cardones Project
The Federal Administrative Court decrees the nullity of the authorization that SEMARNAT had granted to the mining project “Los Cardones” for open-pit mining.
The project is located within the Sierra la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, in the municipality of La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico.
Based on a nullity suit filed by the Citizens’ Front in Defense of Water and Life (FRECIUDAV), the judiciary declared null the authorization granted by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to the Los Cardones mining project, which was intended to develop open-pit mining activity in Baja California Sur, so the unit must issue a new resolution where it considers the conclusions set forth in the judgment.
The above implies in practical terms that the promoting company is no longer authorized to endorse the environmental impacts of its project. The decision taken by the Tribunal does not imply in any way that the new resolution issued by the Directorate General of Environmental Impact (DGIRA) of SEMARNAT must be favorable to the claims of the mining company.
In the judgment issued on February 9 of this year, the Court establishes that the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure was not respected by the law in the matter, in the sense that productive activities in the buffer zones of Biosphere Reserves, can only be carried out by the communities that live there at the time of issuing the Declaration or with their participation.
“This is a fact that sets a precedent at national and even international level, we have managed for the fourth time to stop a mining mega-project that threatens our water and, therefore, our quality of life. The Citizen Front will continue working on the generation of legal instruments that will shield the state against the threat of mining mega-projects.
We trust that with this extremely important triumph achieved by all the South Californians who have contributed in this way to this citizen movement, public servants are aware of the importance of citizen participation in environmental management. Irina Trasviña, an official spokeswoman for FRECIUDAV, commented.
The area in which the mining activity was intended to be carried out is a Natural Protected Area (ANP) in the Biosphere Reserve modality, known as the Sierra La Laguna, the main source of fresh water supply for the south of the State. This decree dates from June 1994 and its management program fromÂ 2003. It is also listed on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and in the priority sites for the conservation of the National Commission for the Knowledge and use of Biodiversity (CONABIO).
According to the promoter of the mining project, it was intended to occupy an area of 543 hectares distributed in a mining site (two cuttings, limestone mining, tailings dam, process plant and pluvial protection works), a 36 km aqueduct that would connect with a DesalinationÂ plantÂ located on the Pacific coast, the opening of an access road, in addition to other infrastructures. All of the above, despite the fact that the ANP Sierra la Laguna decree prohibits within the reserve, “to dumpÂ or discharge pollutants into the soil, subsoil and in any kind of water current or reservoir, and to carry out polluting activities.”
“The organized civil society of Baja California Sur fought against toxic mega-miningÂ on the three potential fronts: it smashed it into social networks, stopped its operation from civil resistance, and triumphed in the judicial contest in court. We are the first community in Latin America to succeed on all three fronts and stop the mining activity, before the start of its operations, “said Arturo Rubio Ruiz, legal counsel for FRECIUDAV.
Until today the Los Cardones project had tried several times to operate, with different names: “Paredones Amarillos” from the 90’s until 2010, then owned by the Canadian company Vista Gold; “Concordia” in 2010 and “Los Cardones” in 2011 and 2012. The company Vista Gold subsequently sold the project to the Invecture group (having as its main shareholder Ricardo Salinas Pliego) in 2013, which operates through the subsidiary “Desarrollos Zapal, SA Of C.V. “
Since 2014, with the participation of 37 Civil Society Organizations, FRECIUDAV has been integrated to lead a totally non-partisan movement, whose main objective has been to protect water supply sources and to curb the impulse of mining companies that intend to settle in the State, due to the serious environmental, social and economic impacts that these projects entail.
Citizen Front in Defense of Water and Life (FRECIUDAV)
Mallorca No. 1103 esq. Marcelo Rubio, Col. California, La Paz, B.C.S., 23070 Mexico
Tel. 612 1273464