No to Toxic Mining!
Our stance to open-pit mining in the Sierra de la Laguna:
In Cantaro Azul, our goal is that people consume safe water through the adoption of supply, treatment, and storage practices that meet the quality parameters set by international norms and satisfy the cultural preferences of their community.
Since June of 2004, our team has been doing water quality analyses in rural communities in the state of Baja California Sur. As part of this work, we have found that there are at least 800 families in the La Paz and Los Cabos municipalities that do not have access to a source of safe drinking water and thus consume water from unprotected wells and springs. The water extracted from more than 70% of these sources does not meet the minimum water quality parameters for human consumption set by the Mexican Standard NOM-127-SSA1-1994 due to the high levels of hardness, nitrates, arsenic or sodium, which produce serious health risks to the Baja California Sur population. In contrast with the rest of the region, the communities located in the hydrological basin of the Sierra de la Laguna have access to excellent quality water and its sources do not have physiochemical contamination problems. The only exception of the basin is the San Antonio and El Triunfo regions, where an ample amount of research has found high concentration of arsenic in the drinking water produced by historical mining activities.
Open-pit mining represents a threat to the natural environment and to the people who live in the regions where mining occurs. There are many documented examples in Mexico and in the world that reveal how chemical inputs and waste products of mining activities lead to environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. These chemicals and waste products end up deposited in aquifers, contaminating the water that is used for agriculture and direct consumption purposes, which leads to serious health impacts on the population.
The Sierra de la Laguna offers one of the most important ecosystem services in the region since it is the principal zone of water capture to recharge the aquifers in the southern region of the state. Major cities and dozens of towns and communities in the southern region of the state draw water from these springs and streams, which is used to meet people's basic needs as well as satisfy the primary economic activities of the region, such as agriculture, livestock and tourism.
Reactivating the open-pit mining in this region would negatively impact a new large area, making it impossible for populations that make up the water distribution network in the watershed to use this precious resource that already faces a high risk to health and would produce serious impacts on the economy of the region.
The open-pit mining projects that that they intend to conduct in Sierra la Laguna threaten the biodiversity of the region, the health of its people, the scenic beauty of the place and the ability of the watershed to serve as the main source of good quality water. The damage would be irreparable and these projects would represent a high cost for future generations. The economic benefits that can be derived in the few years of mining projects would be minimal compared with the degree of disturbance in the area that would last for several centuries.
Given the above explanation, Cantaro Azul strongly opposes the establishment of open-pit mining projects in the region of the Sierra la Laguna.
Manifesto of rural residents on open-pit mining:
From 2009 to 2010 we conducted a study to document health and quality of water in rural communities in the municipalities of La Paz and Los Cabos. As part of this study we carried out visits every two months to 440 families in 24 communities, of which over 60% are located within or in the buffer zone of the Sierra la Laguna Biosphere Reserve.
During our visits to these households, many people we interviewed expressed concern and disagreement with the open-pit mining projects, as they affect the health of their families and the development of their businesses.
Similarly most families said that no authority or company had informed the communities about the mining projects or asked for their opinion. These families believe they should be taken into account in the decision-making process as they live very close to where the mining projects are intended to be executed and would be the most affected if the projects were to be approved. Due to a lack of inclusion of this sector of the population, Cantaro Azul took on the task of collecting the opinions of these families in January and February of 2010.
We collected a total of 243 signatures of people who support the manifesto attached below that live in 14 communities near the Sierra la Laguna (Santa Gertrudis, San Simón, El Veladero, Texcalama, Santo Domingo, San Andrés, El Aguaje, El Refugio, San Venancio, San Vicente de la Sierra, La Trinidad, Candelaria, La Cieneguita, and El Saltito de los García) where about 150 families live, who would be directly affected through their health, welfare, culture and economic activities.
Manifesto signed by 243 inhabitants of the Sierra la Laguna:
As residents of rural communities in the region of the Sierra la Laguna, we hereby declare:
1. - We are against approving the land use change requested by the company Paredones Amarillos in Sierra la Laguna, as the open-pit gold mining activities already threaten the health of our families and the sustainability of our economic activities.
2. - Over the past two decades we have made every effort to modify and adapt our activities in order to avoid impact and preserve the ecosystem of the Sierra la Laguna, which has resulted in great economic sacrifices that have affected development opportunities for our families. Therefore we consider that granting permission to conduct open-pit mining in this region is a great injustice to the great effort and a major setback to the sustainable development alternatives that have been promoted by various governmental institutions.
3. - We need sustainable economic activities that are compatible to our culture, and not activities that are against our traditions and experience such as mining.
4. - We strongly oppose the open-pit mining in Sierra la Laguna and we ask authorities that represent us to take the necessary steps to ensure these practices do not happen and that these authorities promote economically and environmentally sustainable productive activities for the benefit of our families and future generations.