Gold Mining in Mexico: Death, Violence, and Corruption While Canadian Firm Profits

Gold Mining in Mexico: Death, Violence, and Corruption While Canadian Firm Profits

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Gold Mining in Mexico

The mining complex named “Los Filos-Bermejal” belonging to the Canadian company Gold Corp and in operation since 2007, directly and indirectly employs people from the communities of Carrizalillo and Mezcala.

At the same time, mining has sparked a war between the drug cartels who charge extortion “floor use” fees.

For almost all the local people, the mining activity has been a source of income, from working there or because they rent out their lands. This makes it so that they do not want to abandon their towns.

Over ten murders have been linked to the mine since 2014. In September of 2015, a group of 100 armed and hooded men broke into the community, shooting and screaming that Carrizalillo belongs to them. Two people died there, including one mine worker.

“They said that this is a rich town and because of that they started charging even the stores for floor use,” the city commissioner, Nelson Figueroa, recalls.

Then, in March 2015, they kidnapped three mine workers, asking for ransom.

“Gold Corp denied the facts and made no gesture to help; a few days later the miners were found dead in a ravine,” the Carrizalillo commissioner stated.

On that occasion, the company affirmed that the events unfolded outside of the mine, and that the workers were not using corporate transportation, which was their job designation.

“The mine disclaims all facts that have been registered in the area, stating that they did not occur within the mining complex, where the highest security protocol measures are in place,” indicated the firm, after consulting with [DPA].

Nonetheless, according to statements made to Reuters, Gold Corp’s director of Corporate Affairs and Security for Latin America, Michael Harvey, affirmed that the company is doing all that it can:

“We do what we can to plead before the local authorities regarding respect for human rights inside our working environment, even though we cannot play the role of the government,” he indicated.

He added that violence represents a “terrible human costs” for the communities, as well as a financial cost to the mine, since they are “obligated to invest in additional security for our operations and staff.”

“It is essential to protect the jobs foreseen by legitimate investment if we want to give members of the community economic opportunities apart from crime,” he continued.

Meanwhile, numerous families have had to run away from Carrizalillo, Amatitlán and Tenantla.

In 2014, Gold Corp suffered difficulties after suspending operations for a couple of months, due to negotiations with the property owners who created the condition that the mine would pay the equivalent of four ounces of gold per 2.5 acres in rent to the 175 property owners and communal lands. Prior to the negotiation. the payment for land use was miserable.

According to a report from Frik Els for InfoMine, one of the main mining consultants, the community of Carrizalillo recieves $3million annually from Gold Corp and “is in the middle of a territorial war between two sides of organized crime.”

Due to this, the report indicates, residents “have seen rivalry gangs come in to extort workers, contractors and land owners.”

The consultant’s note also points out that Los Filos mine is found in the state of Guerrero, “the same region where 43 students were kidnapped and assassinated.”

“There is a disagreement between two groups of this town,” Guerrero’s governer, Héctor Astudillo, said in reference to the cartels of Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos (meaning “The Reds” and “United Warriors”).

These statements were made after the Carrizalillo inhabitants detained federal police officers for several hours, whom they accused of accompanying (as escorts) a presumed member of a cartel, and of having the intent of planting weapons with the city commissioner.

Afterwards, with the media’s attention on this small town of approximately 1000 people, reports were made of clandestine mass graves holding over 60 bodies.

Nonetheless, both cartels, beyond the scope of this town, extend their domain of terror in several municipalities of the state.

The ex-mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca, jailed after the disappearance of the 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa, had links with Guerreros Unidos, according to the Attorney General’s investigation.

Los Rojos, on the other hand, have links to illicit activity in municipalities like Chilapa.

This follows an event on May 9th when 300 armed civilians took the municipal seat of Chilapa, disarming the local police, and, agreeing with the Army, arrested leaders of Los Rojos as a condition to leave the city.

Those 300 civilians, at the same time, were associated with the cartel named Los Ardillos.

If the statements made by the state are true, two of the most extensive groups of organized crime in the state are fighting for something found at Carrizalillo.

In Guerrero there are more than 700 active mining licenses registered. Of those, according to data from the Secretary of the Economy’s Mining Administration’s Integral System, over 80% of those belong to Canadian companies. Of the active licenses, 71% of them are for gold mining and are found within a surface area of approximately 3,262 square miles. The main mining corporations operating in that region are Canadian, namely Gold Corp, Minaurum Gold, Veldome Resources, and Hochschild Mining.

The largest gold mine in Latin America and the principal generator of [Mexican] gold is found in this state. It is located between the towns of Mezcala and Carrizalillo, in the municipality of Eduardo Neru, around 31 miles from Chilpancingo.

from Bajo Palabra translated by Earth First! Journal

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