McGill Research Group Investigating
Canadian Mining in Latin America

Paredones Amarillos, Mexico

Key Data

Company:Vista Gold Corp Operational status:development Materials extracted:gold Type of mine:open pit Main issues:biodiversity


In 1997, the Mexican company Minera Paredones Amarillos, currently owned by the Canadian corporation Vista Gold Corp., was granted several mining concessions covering an area of around 3,710ha[i]. The concessions are located in the state of Baja California Sur within the Sierra la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, declared as a  World Biosphere by the UNESCO in 1994[ii]. Inhabitants of the region have opposed the project and state that ecotourism and organic farming, two important economic activities in the area, would be negatively affected by Vista Gold’s project[v]. Furthermore, they argued that an open pit mine would contaminate the reserve’s aquifers which are the principal water source for the La Paz and Los Cabos municipalities[iii]. Vista Gold Corp. announced that it would build a desalinization plant to provide the water supply needed for mining operations and protect the reserve’s water sources. However, the land where the company intends to construct the desalinization plant is a turtle egg-laying zone[iv]. Furthermore, the amount of water needing desalinization could have a negative impact on the sea turtle and whale habitat in the area[1].

On February 2010, the Mexican Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), denied the Change of Land Use Permit necessary to construct the mine[vi]. Vista Gold Corp. announced that it would modify the project to make it more socially and environmentally responsible, changed the project’s name to “Project Concordia,” and re-issued an application for a Change of Land Use Permit[vii].

On January 2011, around 9 thousand people gathered in El Tule beach in  Cabo San Lucas and formed an S.O.S sign on the beach to protest against mining activities[viii]. A week later, a caravan of around 150 vehicles traveled from San Jose del Cabo and Todos los Santos to La Paz in order to deliver a letter to the governor demanding the cancellation of mining projects in Baja California Sur[ix]. Despite local opposition, Vista Gold Corp. is currently awaiting for the issuance of the Change of Land Use Permit to continue with the mining project.


[i]Raymundo Leon, “BCS: explotarán oro en una reserva de la biosfera”, La Jornada, January 6, 2010, p.24. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2010/01/06/estados/024n1est

[ii] Raymundo Leon, “BCS: explotarán oro en una reserva de la biosfera”, La Jornada, January 6, 2010, p.24.  http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2010/01/06/estados/024n1est

[iii]  Carlos Fernandez-Vega, “Mexico SA”, La Jornada, July 5, 2011. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/07/05/opinion/026o1eco

[iv]  Carlos Fernandez-Vega, “Mexico SA”, La Jornada, July 5, 2011. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/07/05/opinion/026o1eco

[1] Karri Moster, ¨Paredones Amarillos open pit mine status¨http://sites.google.com/site/mexicowiki/news-features/open-pit-gold-mining

[v] Veronica Gonzales Soto,”Ejido San José se verá afectado por Paredones Amarillos: Ejidatario”, El Sol de Tijuana, February 10, 2010. http://www.oem.com.mx/elsoldetijuana/notas/n1506001.htm

[vi]  “Excellent News”, last modified February 19, 2010, http://www.vistagoldno.com/2009/11/excellent-news.html

[vii] Raymundo Leon, “BCS: explotarán oro en una reserva de la biosfera”, La Jornada, January 6, 2010, p.24.  http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/03/07/estados/038n1est

[viii] Raymundo Leon, “BCS: explotarán oro en una reserva de la biosfera”, La Jornada, January 6, 2010, p.24.   http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/03/07/estados/038n1est

[ix] “Congress Announces Special Session for SustainabilityLegislation”, January 2010, http://www.vistagoldno.com/

Timeline of Key Events