Canadian Fact-finding Delegation Discovers Mexican Community Devastated by Mining Activities of Blackfire Exploration

Common Frontiers - United Steelworkers - MiningWatch Canada

Delegation calls for Canadian Parliament to censure Blackfire and pass Bills C-300 & C-354

OTTAWA, 21 April 2010 – A Canadian delegation that visited Chiapas, Mexico following the murder of social activist Mariano Abarca and the involvement of several employees of the Calgary-based mining company Blackfire Exploration has concluded that Blackfire should leave Chiapas, and the Canadian Parliament needs to act now to prevent further international mining conflicts from turning deadly.

Blackfire’s barite mining operation near the town of Chicomuselo in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas was closed by state environmental authorities on December 7, 2009. Mariano Abarca Roblero was shot dead in front of his house on November 27, 2009.

“What we found during our investigation was a community devastated by the ever-present intimidation, violence, bad mining practices, environmental destruction, and legal harassment – and the bloody murder of Mariano Abarca, who spoke up against this destruction,” said Rick Arnold, of Common Frontiers.

“It is the view of the Abarca family that Blackfire is ultimately, if not directly, responsible for the violence that followed the arrival of the mine, culminating in Mariano’s murder,” said Dawn Paley, a journalist and researcher who participated in the delegation on behalf of MiningWatch Canada. “This feeling is shared by many in the community of Chicomuselo.”

“It is outrageous that when the Chiapas Ministry of the Environment and Housing has shut down the mine, the authorities have arrested several company employees, and the community has spoken out so clearly against this company, that Blackfire continues to try to overturn the closure and resume business as usual,” emphasized MiningWatch spokesperson Jamie Kneen.

“It is clear from our findings that the Parliament of Canada needs to take two steps immediately. First, an all-party motion of censure against Blackfire’s activities should be introduced. And second, Parliament needs to pass the two mining accountability bills currently before it, namely bills C-300 and C-354,” said Mark Rowlinson, a lawyer with United Steelworkers.

The fact-finding delegation was in Mexico from March 21 to 27 at the invitation of the Mexican Network of Communities Affected by Mining, and included representatives of MiningWatch Canada, Common Frontiers and United Steelworkers. A comprehensive report on their findings is attached below, along with a separate executive summary.


Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada (613) 569-3439 (office), (613) 761-2273 (cell), jamie(at)
Dawn Paley, Researcher (604) 619-1127 (cell), dawnpaley(at)
Mark Rowlinson, United Steelworkers (416) 544-5983 (office), (647) 231-5983 (cell), mrowlinson(at)