Caballo Blanco, Mexico
Caballo Blanco is an open pit mining project owned by Canadian corporation GoldGroup Mining Inc. through the Mexican subsidiary Minera Cardel SA de CV. It is located in Palo Alto, Veracruz in a zone declared as a Priority Biodiversity Conservation Area by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO). The region is also a migration zone for around 235 bird species some of which have been declared endangered[i].
The first exploration drillings were conducted in 1998 without the required permits. In 2009 Gold-Group acquired the Caballo Blanco project and in 2010, Gold-Group presented a Manifestation of Ecological Impact (MIA) to the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) in response to the complaint filed by inhabitants of the region against the company’s activities. On January 2011, the PROFEPA approved Gold-Group’s exploration activities and three months later the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) authorized the excavation of 6 exploration tunnels[ii][iii]. The Asamblea Veracruzana de Iniciativas y Defesa Ambiental (LAVIDA), a civil association formed in 2010 with the objective of protecting Veracruz’s natural environment made public their opposition to the project. LAVIDA members stated that the permit issued by the PROFEPA violated several norms of ecological conservation and declared that the project presents a major security risk due to the fact that it is within the security perimeter of Laguna Verde Nuclear Plant. The security dispositions of the Nuclear Plant establish a 16km security perimeter, and GoldGroups Inc. intends to construct the open pit mine is 3 km away from Laguna Verde Nuclear Plant. Furthermore, LAVIDA members stated that the project presents a risk of damage to nearby archaeological sites[iv].
On February 2012, Veracruz’s governor declared that he would not approve the project and Veracruz’s Minister of the Environment filed a report to the SEMARNAT stating that GoldGroup’s project would have a negative social impact, would cause irreversible environmental damages, and presents important risks for public security[v]. The report was based on seventy different research studies performed by local, national, and international academic institutions[vi]. The same month, in a press conference, federal deputy Leobardo Ortiz Fuentes stated that an expropriation request in favor of Gold-Group has been filed because 80% of ejidatarios of Actopan have refused to sell their lands[vii].
On March 2012, landowners of Actopan community pressed charges against local Mayor for permitting damage to private property and trespass to land[viii]. The same month, members of LAVIDA filed an accusation against GoldGroup for violating the Manifestation of Ecological Impact (MIA) granted by the PROFEPA and demanded the cancellation of the project. They stated that the company illegally constructed roads damaging several 3000 year old endangered cicada specimens[ix]. On April 2012, a delegate from the SEMARNAT informed that the project is currently suspended because the viability of the project is being considered[x]. However, LAVIDA members claim that exploration activities have been taking place despite the suspension of the project and that some opposers to the project have received threats[xi].
[i] Karina de La Paz and Rosalinda Morales, “Minera en Actopan potencializa riesgo nuclear de Laguna Verde: ONG”, Solucion Politica, June 6, 2011. http://www.solucionpolitica.net/minera-en-actopan-potencializa-riesgo-nuclear-de-laguna-verde-ong/
[ii] Karina de La Paz and Rosalinda Morales, “Minera en Actopan potencializa riesgo nuclear de Laguna Verde: ONG”, Solucion Politica, June 6, 2011. http://www.solucionpolitica.net/minera-en-actopan-potencializa-riesgo-nuclear-de-laguna-verde-ong/
[iii] Jorge Morales, “En la Region de Actopan Autorizan a Minera Apertura de Tuneles” , El Heraldo de Xalapa, April 2011. http://notas-heraldo-xalapa.tumblr.com/post/5398812497/en-la-region-de-actopan-autorizan-a-minera-apertura-de
[iv] “La Amenaza del Proyecto Minero Caballo Blanco” http://www.lavida.org.mx/iniciativa/amenaza-proyecto-minero-caballo-blanco
[v] Juan Carlos Ruiz Guadalajara, “Caballo Blanco, nueva verguenza nacional?”, La Jornada, April 5, 2012. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/04/05/opinion/017a1pol
[vi] Notimex,”Entrega Veracruz a Semarnat análisis sobre mina Caballo Blanco”, SDP Noticias, February 27, 2012. http://sdpnoticias.com/nota/314011/Entrega_Veracruz_a_Semarnat_analisis_sobre_mina_Caballo_Blanco
[vii] Norma Trujillo Baez, “Expropriaran tierras para mina de oro”, La Jornada, February 25, 2012. http://www.jornadaveracruz.com.mx/PDF/Contraportada2012256158607.pdf
[viii] Rosalinda Morales, “Denuncian a Alcalde de Actopan por ecocidio”, Solucion Politica, March 6, 2012. http://www.solucionpolitica.net/denuncian-a-alcalde-de-actopan-por-ecocidio/
[ix] “Piden clausurar mina Caballo Blanco por violar leyes” http://www.vanguardia.com.mx/pidenclausurarminacaballoblancoporviolarleyes-1240040.html
[x] Angeles Ceballos Gonzales, ” ‘Caballo Blanco’ no esta cancelado, se suspendio; en 3 meses habra noticias”, Al Calor Politico, April 24, 2012. http://www.alcalorpolitico.com/informacion/-Caballo-Blanco-no-esta-cancelado-se-suspendio-en-2-o-3-meses-habra-noticias-Semarnat-91499.html
[xi] Javier Hernandez Alpizar, “Volveran a mobilizarse vs mina Caballo Blanco”, Kaos en la Red, April 20, 2012. http://www.kaosenlared.net/america-latina/item/15623-méxico-volverán-a-movilizarse-vs-mina-caballo-blanco.html