Four weeks ago, one of Mexico’s highest courts, the ninth Tribunal of the first circuit, confirmed that an open-pit gold mine in Cerro San Pedro, a village in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, is being operated illegally by Minera San Xavier, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company New Gold.
A similar ruling was issued in October 2005, when the courts found the mine was violating several environmental regulations and threatening to contaminate a region occupied by more than 1.3 million people. The court went on to nullify the company’s land use permit. However, both the mining company and the federal Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), who first issued the permit, ignore the ruling—and then flouted the courts six months later, in April 2006, when SEMARNAT renewed the permit.
Since that time, “without even working at full capacity, the company has, amongst other things, levelled two patrimonial mountains and has buried extensive areas of a territory that had been protected by law,” explains a new petition by the Frente Amplio Opositor (FAO), an organization dedicated to protecting Cerro de San Pedro.
The petition calls on both Mexican and Canadian authorities to adhere to the recent court ruling and any contempt of court charges in connection to the ongoing operation of New Gold’s mine.
The ruling itself, issued on September, 24, 2009 reaffirms the October 2005 ruling, declares the second land use permit to be null and void, and gives SEMARNAT until November 13, 2009 to shut down the San Xavier gold mine with finality.
This should mark the end of a long ten-year struggle for the people of Cerro San Pedro. Unfortunately, there is a small chance the ruling will not be enforced, and that SEMARNAT and NEW GOLD will be allowed to continue acting with impunity.
FAO is asking people to help make sure this doesn’t happen by signing their petition, Stop the impunity of New Gold’s mine in Cerro San Pedro!. If you prefer a more personal approach, you can also send individual emails to various authorities in Mexico and Canada.
Photo Credit: Tamara Herman
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