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NEWS: Plans for Pitalla mine in Mexico continue

Octavo Dia reports on a recent ruling by the Federal Court of Fiscal and Administrative Justice on the proposed Pitalla mine in Mexico. The article notes concerns from Alejandro Olivera Bonilla of the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) who says the ruling is not enough to give the go-ahead for this project and that it does not mean that the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) should authorize the mine.

As noted in a campaign blog in February 2012, the Canadian-company Argonaut Gold is proposing to build the Pitalla mine, an open-pit gold mine in Mexico that would require 1,900 acres of the UNESCO-designated Sierra de la Laguna biosphere. Argonaut Gold’s plan also includes a desalination plant to provide the millions of gallons of water necessary to extract gold from the ore. The Sierra de la Laguna is a mountain range on the Baja California Peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, presumably the sources of water for the desalination plant. There are already concerns being expressed about the toxic cyanide-polluted wastewater that would be produced by the mine and the impact it would have on the aquifers, wells and wildlife in the biosphere.

Science writer Valerie Rapp has noted, “Sierra de la Laguna is a biosphere reserve because it has dozens of endemic Baja plant species and sources of rare desert freshwater that support the communities below the mountains. The Pitalla mine, proposed by Argonaut Gold, requests an exemption to use ‘only’ 1,900 acres of the biosphere reserve for an ‘environmentally responsible’ mine. …In their public meetings in small Baja villages, company reps have not said what would be done with the millions of gallons of cyanide-infused water after the leaching. In a desert where water is hungrily absorbed by thirsty roots or flashes down arroyos to the sea, where does cyanide-infused wastewater go? What happens when flash floods wash cyanide, arsenic, and toxic metals into the Gulf of California, waters that are biosphere reserves themselves for their incredible marine biodiversity?”

The Octavo Dia article (in Spanish) is at http://www.octavodia.mx/articulo/38759/fallo-a-favor-de-la-pitalla-no-bastara-para-que-comience-operaciones-cemda. Rapp’s article can be found at http://mx1.www.onearth.org/taxonomy/term/686. The campaign blog can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13679.