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Great Panther Silver mining and water contamination, México

The waste derived from the metal extraction processes, in charge of the Canadian mining company Great Panther Silver, in the Guanajuato Mining Complex, heavily contaminated water sources


The waste derived from the metal extraction processes, in charge of the Canadian mining company Great Panther Silver, has been a matter of controversy since the beginning of its operations in 2005 [1]. In that year, the company used El Rosario mining company as a front company in order to take ownership of the most important mines in Guanajuato, such as San Ignacio, Guanajuatita, Cata, Rayas, and San Vicente; together, they form what is known as the Guanajuato Mining Complex [3]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Great Panther Silver mining and water contamination, México
State or province:Guanajuato
Location of conflict:Guanajuato City
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Lead
Industrial waste
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

According to La Jornada (2015), Profepa shared an invetsigation in which was possible to identify that the Great Panther mining spilled 200 thousand tons of various waste, including iron, manganese, zinc, arsenic and selenium, in Cata’s river and in the deposits of the river “El Rosario” in Guanajuato. Furthermore, Great Panther is also responsible for the spill of 840 gallons of tailings in Guanajuato, as well as 360 gallons in Cata’s river [4].

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Level of Investment for the conflictive projectWithout information.
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:Around 194,500 persons, who are the residents of Guanajuato City.
Start of the conflict:23/03/2005
Company names or state enterprises:Great Panther Silver from Canada - Main actor that creates the conflict.
Guanajuato Silver Company Ltd. from Canada - New owner
Minera Mexicana El Rosario SA de CV from Mexico - Subsidiary of Great Panther Silver
Relevant government actors:Comisión Nacional de Aguas (CONAGUA)
Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente (PROFEPA)
Sistema Municipal de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de Guanajuato (SIMAPAG)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Red Mexicana de Comunidades Afectadas por la Minería.
Web page:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Genetic contamination, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Project temporarily suspended
In 2022, a purchase was celebrated to transfer the property of the Complejo Minero de Guanajuato to another foreign mining company, Guanajuato Silver Company. Also, there have been countless complaints filed against Great Panther Silver, Ltd.
Proposal and development of alternatives:In 2011, the Federal Protection Agency
to the Environment (Profepa) proposed a series of
recommendations to reinforce the dams of
tailings, which were accepted by the
mining company.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Great Panther Silver finally left
Guanajuato after 15 years of
operations, but the only thing that truly happened during their time there was the sale of the mining complex to another foreign company, leaving tons of toxic waste and overexploited mines behind.

Moreover, the complaints were never processed by the corresponding authorities, and Great Panther Silver was solely charged with paying a fine that was both an unfair amount for the damage caused and disproportionate to their annual profit.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[1] Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina. (s.f.). Conflicto Minero: Great Panther contamina el agua de Guanajuato. Mapa de Conflictos Mineros. Recuperado de:
[click to view]

[4] Periódico La Jornada. (2015). Minera provoca derrame tóxico en Guanajuato. Retrieved from:
[click to view]

[5] Mining Mexico. (2022). Guanajuato Silver cierra adquisición de activos mexicanos de Great Panther. Retrieved from
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[2] TV Libertad MX Orgullo Guanajuatense. [TV Libertad MX Orgullo Guanajuatense] (15 de agosto de 2018). Presa de jales Jolula [Video]. YouTube. Recuperado de:
[click to view]

[3] TV Libertad MX Orgullo Guanajuatense. [TV Libertad MX Orgullo Guanajuatense] (3 de julio de 2022). Se va Great Panther Silver de Guanajuato [Video]. YouTube. Recuperado de:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Karla Victoria Abarca Ramos, Andrea Sanabria Pacas, Jennifer Ramírez Razo, Gabriel Cárdenas Ramírez, Diana Sofía Agudelo Martínez, Ximena Santos Huerta, Santiago Tovar Báez
Last update12/12/2022
Conflict ID:6152
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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