Vancouver-based NewGold Inc. has suspended the operations of its gold and silver mine in Cerro de San Pedro, Mexico after approximately 800,000 tonnes of material moved on the northeast pit wall in late-August. It has been reported that no one was injured in the incident.
ProactiveInvestors.com reports, “As a result of the incident, NewGold anticipates production from the project to fall below original expectations, with an estimate of roughly 15,000 ounces of gold to be lost from the current calendar year. …Additionally, recoveries from the Cerro San Pedro leach pad for the last month have fallen below the company’s targets, with NewGold saying that it is evaluating various alternatives to restore the recovery rates to historical levels.”
In November 2010, I visited the community with campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue. We wrote then, “Members of the community told us about how NewGold removed the top of their mountain to get at the gold and silver—a mountain which is tied intimately to their history and cultural identity. In the extraction process, NewGold uses cyanide to separate the minerals from the rock. We are told that this has polluted local water sources, which explains the chant of community members as we walked the kilometre into town: ‘Water yes, cyanide no’. The community has been challenging this mine for 14 years, including in the Mexican federal court where, as a result of the impacts it is having, it was found to be illegal. But the Mexican government allows the mine to continue, and so does the Canadian government. We expressed our solidarity and determination to stop this destruction of their land and water, and the resulting impact on their health.”
In May 2011, Harden-Donahue challenged a NewGold executive at the company’s shareholders meeting in Toronto. In September 2012, organizer Claudia Campero Arena visited the community. And in November 2012, Campero Arena accompanied Maude Barlow on a visit to the community and to observe the mine. Barlow wrote about this experience on pages 8-9 of her report.
The mine is located about 400 kilometres north of Mexico City.