Today marks one month since the Ejido of Carrizalillo began a peaceful, legal encampment to stop operations at Equinox Gold’s Los Filos mine in Guerrero, Mexico, over the company’s failure to comply with 70% of the terms of its social cooperation agreement with the community. The company’s breaches of the agreement include failing to ensure an adequate supply of potable water and medicines, among other issues. The community has now rescinded the agreement, but remains open to dialogue.
During this time, Equinox Gold has not managed to accomplish two seemingly simple tasks in order to get on track to start negotiations and resume operations at Los Filos: 1) correct its defamatory September 4 statement of the community action on its website, which seeks to criminalize the Ejido’s actions as illegal, when they are legally stopping work on their own lands; and 2) respectfully work toward meaningful dialogue with the Ejido based on mutually agreed terms. The mine was actually opened for two days (September 11-12), under an interim agreement for the Ejido’s encampment to remain in place until negotiations over a new social cooperation agreement significantly advanced, but remarkably, the company abandoned that agreement and the Ejido again stopped operations. The company has yet to update its website about the status of the mine, and its communications via other channels (see timeline below) fall short of meeting these two basic conditions or recognizing the significance of the Ejido’s action, which was undertaken by mandate of its general assembly only after the company showed no willingness to uphold the terms of its agreements.
For over two weeks, concerned organizations and individuals have been sending letters to the company to urge it to rid its processes of this discriminatory behaviour, refrain from any aggression against the Ejido, make a public statement which recognizes the Ejido as the lawful landowner (and thus within its legal right to stop the mine), and start working with the Ejido to reach a solution. Over 135 letters in support of the Ejido have been sent to Equinox Gold, the Canadian embassy and company chair Ross Beaty. Beyond these letters, several organizations, including MiningWatch, have sent their own letters expressing concern about the ongoing dispute. To date, neither MiningWatch, nor any of those organizations, have received an official response from the company.
The clock is ticking, and every day that the mine isn’t operating, the company is losing money. Los Filos is its flagship mine, and it is incomprehensible that it continues to drag its feet on this centrally important issue.
More importantly, and beyond the company’s immediate economic losses as a result of the shutdown at Los Filos, it has completely lost the respect of the Ejido. If the company hopes to continue operating on their land, it will need to take some meaningful and respectful action soon.
You can see an updated timeline of the conflict as it unfolds, here.