Minera San Xavier, a subsidiary of the Canadian company Metallica Resources, came under fire once again for its mining activities near the central Mexican town of San Luis Potosí. In a decision released last Thursday, the Latin America Water Tribunal placed responsibility for the mine’s environmental and social harms with the mining company as well as the Mexican government. The Tribunal also noted that the Canadian Government should develop oversight, compensation, and reparation mechanisms for harms caused by Canadian mining companies abroad.
The mining area includes an aquifer that provides water to 40% of San Luis Potosí, the Tribunal noted. Considered a limited resource, the aquifer has been monitored carefully since 1962. The current rate of use is estimated at double the rate of replenishment; thanks to the open mine, the Tribunal warned, overuse and contamination will occur. It added that that 75% of the area conceded for mining has been legislated as protected by the Mexican government.
The Tribunal recommended immediate cessation of mining, an independent and rigorous study into environmental problems in the mine’s area of impact, and the development of mechanisms for Minera San Xavier to compensate for damage identified by the study. The Tribunal also called for the mining company to conform to national and international
standards for protection of the affected town’s aquifer and establish compensation mechanisms for the impacts of mining on the water system and environment as well as possible harms to the population’s health.
The Latin American Water Tribunal is an international, autonomous ethical tribunal created in Central America in 1998, which expanded to the rest of Latin America in 2004. Its decisions are not legally binding. Through public hearings it evaluates cases of environmental damage to water resources in Latin America. The most recent hearings concluded last week in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Tribunal’s decision (in Spanish):
The Tribunal’s website (Spanish and English): http://www.tragua.com/en/