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Residents in Rural Mexico Fight for Say in Mining Projects Near Their Land

Mar Garcia - Global Press Journal
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October 31, 2016

Mexican Indigenous want the government to stop giving mining companies permission to extract resources in their lands (Reuters)

In many instances, people who live in the vicinity of mining projects are the last to learn about them, according to a report from the Comision para el Dialogo con los Pueblos Indigenas de Mexico (CDI), which oversees public policy for the indigenous population in the country.

In addition, they are rarely informed about the procedures used to extract metals and how this could affect their health, their activities and their properties, according to the report.

In Mexico, the process for granting mining concessions does not require informing or obtaining the consent of those living within or near the project area. Public consultation is limited if it happens at all, and the government isn't required to consider the opinions of local people. The only scenario in which local people should be consulted is when a mining concession stretches beneath land owned by indigenous or tribal groups, according to requirements set out in 1989 by the Convenio 169 sobre Pueblos Indigenas y Tribales, of the International Labour Organization.

Individuals can comment on any mining project's environmental impact, but those comments only lead to public meetings when the activity in question has the potential to generate serious ecological imbalances or harm to public health or ecosystems, according to Mexican law.

Even then, comments from the public don't impact the possible approval of a project, says Miguel Angel Mijangos Leal, a liaison at Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Mineria, a network of organizations and communities concerned about the impacts of mining in the country.

...Between 1993, when negotiations began for commercial opportunities in Mexico, and the end of 2012, 43,675 mining concessions covering a total of over 95 million hectares (over 236 million acres) were granted, according to the CDI report.

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