Friends of MiningWatch

Mexico: Ejido of Carrizalillo Revokes Agreement, Shuts Down Equinox Gold's Los Filos Mine

Source: 
Ejido of Carrizalillo, Municipality of Eduardo Neri, Guerrero, México

On April 3, 2019, the Ejido of Carrizalillo concluded a long period of dialogue and discussion with the group of directors and managers designated by Leagold Mining and signed two agreements: one concerning social issues and another for rental of lands. After having negotiated various land use agreements with different mining companies that have operated on our territory over the years, we signed for the longest duration ever, 2019 to 2025, demonstrating trust on the part of the Ejido with the company.

During more than three months of discussions and reaching of agreements between the parties, for the first time, a work stoppage at Leagold Mining’s Los Filos mining operation was avoided. The mine was recently acquired by Equinox Gold. The work stoppage was avoided because we felt that we had been shown respect during the negotiations and because several new clauses were included in the agreements that, without a doubt, allowed for some improvements that would mitigate somewhat the health and environmental harms that the mining operation has caused.

However, all of the respect we were shown during the negotiation of the agreements faded away, and differences began to arise over breaches of the agreements and lack of transparency. Ultimately, after raising the corresponding complaints, the company began to treat us with discrimination and racism.

These acts have broken the trust that the Ejido had in the company, which has demonstrated through its lack of transparency and ethics, and its excessive arrogance, that the health and limited wellbeing of those of us living in an area of mineral extraction is low on their list of priorities and does not really matter to it at all. As a result, it expects us to continue dealing with the deprivation of our health, a situation that is now irreparable.

It is public knowledge that we are living in an area heavily affected by mining operations that have contaminated our sources of clean water with heavy metals, leading to significant health harms, such as to the skin, birth deformations, cancer, and respiratory problems, among others. These issues are aggravated because the company has paid little attention to this important issue after we ceded our principal sources of water in exchange for other water sources. Still, today, none of the three companies that have exploited our lands have finished this task. This means that we have been without clean water since 2010.

This connects with the current COVID pandemic and the government’s declaration in May qualifying mining as an essential activity. Before that, those of us in Carrizalillo, as well as in the nearby community of Mezcala, had not had any positive COVID cases. However, with the return of the workers and restart of the company’s activities, and due to the irresponsibility of the company and its failure to fulfil public health protocols, only a few days after the return to work there were over 21 positive cases of COVID. Since then, the number of cases of infection has increased and, as a result, the company’s errors have also increased, including putting pressure on workers to come to work before receiving results of their COVID tests from the laboratory. Some workers have already died from COVID.

Each effort at dialogue concerning the fulfillment of our agreements with the company have become a waste of energy that we consider completely unnecessary, fully lacking respect and attention to our frequent complaints to top company management. As a result, starting today, THE EJIDO OF CARRIZALILLO DECLARES AN END TO OUR AGREEMENT WITH THE COMPANY OVER THE BREACH OF VARIOUS CLAUSES. Exercising our right as specified in the agreement, we rescind the agreement, and starting today THE OPERATIONS OF THE LOS FILOS MINE ARE TOTALLY CLOSED.

To the community, the lack of respect, dialogue and responses to our complaints over the company’s breaches of our agreements seems absurd, which is what leads us to take legal action, exercising the strength and dignity of the Ejido.

We will not stand for any further acts of racism or discrimination, and if the company, or any other that in the future tries to settle on our lands, is incapable of fixing the attitude of their management and are incapable of fulfilling the agreements that they sign, we will continue letting them know that their disdain for us will not break us.

We call on other social movements to be attentive to any possible act of aggression that the company might orchestrate against us and thank you in advance for your solidarity. We will continue to provide updates.

Attentively,

Ejido of Carrizalillo, Municipality of Eduardo Neri, Guerrero, México