Last update:
2016-12-13

Wirikuta silver and gold mining, Mexico

Silver and gold mining in sacred land belonging to the Wixárica people. Strong, peaceful successful resistance against foreign companies and local government.


Description:

In 2011, the federal Government granted Revolution Resources Corp minning concessions to lauch a new "Universe Project" in an area that overlapps by more than 42% with the Wirikuta Natural Reserve (59,678 hectares). This added to another project, the La Luz project, which was approved in 2010 in benefit of First Majestic Silver Corp. This project involved 22 concessions and affected 6,327 hectares, 70% of which also fell within the Reserve. The Reserve also hosts the Wirikuta/Wixárica community and a number of sacred sites and resources used by this community. The project, which contemplates open extraction techniques, will  threaten the community traditional activities as well as water quantity and quality in the area.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Wirikuta silver and gold mining, Mexico
Country:Mexico
State or province:San Luis Potosi
Location of conflict:San Luis Potosí, México, municipios de Catorce, Charcas, Matehuala, Villa de Guadalupe, Villa de la Paz, Villa de Ramos, Bajío
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Silver
Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details

First Majestic Silver obtained 22 mine concessions, including 6,327 hectares in the Wirikuta area.

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Project area:59,678
Level of Investment:100,000,000 USD (La Luz project; First Majestic Silver))
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:20,000 Wixárika
Start of the conflict:01/01/2010
End of the conflict:09/2013
Company names or state enterprises:First Majestic Silver Corp. (FM) from Canada
Revolution resources Corp./IMD Mining (RR) from Canada - Project concession beneficiary
Relevant government actors:Governors of San Luis Potosí, Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas.
Felipe Calderon (Mexican President from 2006 to 2012)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Unión Wixárica de Centros Ceremoniales (http://ongs.com.mx/job/union-wixarika-de-centros-ceremoniales-de-jalisco-durango-y-nayarit/)
Frente en Defensa de Wirikuta Tamatsima Wahaa
Consejo Regional Wixárika por la Defensa de Wirikuta
Asociación Jalisciense de Apoyo a Grupos
Indígenas
Amnesty International
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Business & Human Rights
UNESCO
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Defense of sacredness of the territory
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:In September 2013, Federal court suspended 40 mine exploitation concessions including those of Universo project. This decision stopped all preparatory mining works in the Wirikuta area (municipalities of Catorce, Charcas, Matehuala, Villa de Ramos, Villa de Guadalupe and Villa de la Paz)., until the concessions are definitively cancelled.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Convention 169 of ILO

San Luis Potosí state, 29 June 2010, LEY DE CONSULTA INDÍGENA. Según esta ley serán objeto obligado de consulta: EL OTORGAMIENTO DE CONCESIONES, CONTRATOS Y DEMAS INSTRUMENTOS JURIDICOS QUE AFECTEN EL USO Y DISFRUTE DE SUS TIERRAS Y RECURSOS NATURALES.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Miriam Alï-e Cohen, Conflictos socio-ambientales: la minería en Wirikuta y Cananea
[click to view]

Tesis doctoral, “Minería, conservación y derechos indígenas. Territorio y conflicto en Catorce, San Luis Potosí”, Andrew Félix Boni Noguez, del CIGA de la UNAM, reconocido por la Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (AMC) por la mejor tesis de doctorado en Ciencias Sociales 2015. Trabajo dirigido por Claudio Garibay.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

10 claves para entender el conflicto en Wirikuta
[click to view]

Wirikuta: la historia no contada de un conflicto minero
[click to view]

Hermann Bellinghausen, "Wirikuta no se vende, se ama y se defiende"
[click to view]

En defensa de Wirikuta, 60 mil cantaron en el Foro Sol, 27/5/2012
[click to view]

Wirikuta se defiende, Hermann Bellinghausen (La Jornada 27 junio 2016)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Salvemos Wirikuta blog
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Sergio Villamayor-Tomas
Last update13/12/2016
Comments
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