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March in Dolores Hidalgo, July 22, 2019 (Source: Accion Colectiva)

More than 1500 March to Defend Territory Against Argonaut Gold in Guanajuato, Mexico

Kirsten Francescone Latin America Program Coordinator Kirsten Francescone works to support communities, organizations, and networks in the region struggling with mining conflicts.

Yesterday, over 1,500 people marched against "Toxic Mining" in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico to demand that the three levels of government respect their decision to be territories free of mining, and not grant any licences to Canadian company, Argonaut Gold (TSE: AR).

Dolores Hidalgo is situated a few kilometres away from the company's "Cerro de Gallo" gold-sivler project, which plans to be a industrial open-pit mine which will have cyanide leaching pads. The project falls within the "Cuenca de la Independencia", which is a subterreanean aquifer that joins seven municipalities, and scientific reports from the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) demonstrate that it contains significant levels of arsenic and fluoride and is already unsuitable for human consumption. Community members argue that another mine will not only exacerbate this dire situation. Media reporting on the march noted that participants primary concerns are those for the health of the aquifer and the impacts that intensive industrial chemical processes can have on their waterways, and health. 

Despite these legitimate concerns, the Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minera (REMA) reported on July 17, that the mining sector shrugged off people's concerns about their health and the likelihood for further contamination of their watersources by saying they were "ridiculous" at the "Expo Minero Mexico" industry event. 

In 2017, a report from the Tributary Auditing System of the Mexican government (SAT) identified a subsidiary of Argonaut Gold as evading taxes. There have also been official complaints submitted by members of the population near Argonaut's "La Colorada" mine for effects to their health, structural integrity of their houses, and working conditions of their employess. The constant blasting which occurs at the massive open-pit mine has left long-standing health implications for the surrounding population.

It is a cause for concern that this company wants to open yet another open-pit mine in Mexico, and is clear why community members are unequivocal about their opposition to the Cerro de Gallo project. According to a press release which was circulated by REMA on July 8, the demands of the surrounding communities of Cerro de Gallo are clear: 

"Inhabitants of the communities near the Cerro del Gallo project have expressed their absolute rejection to the mining of Argonaut Gold, since it would lead to the violation of their human rights, the involuntary displacement of many inhabitants, negatively impact their economy, and compromise the quality of life of the families in the present and in the future. Given this conviction, the communities themselves demand that the Municipal Government of Dolores Hidalgo not grant any type of permits and / or authorizations to the Argonaut Gold company for its Cerro del Gallo project." 

You can find the original press release here.