Mexico: Open Pit Gold Mine Threatens Drinking Water and Biosphere Reserve

November 8, 2012
Communities in Baja California are concerned about plans for a massive open pit gold mine in the buffer zone of the Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere Reserve.  The proposed "Los Cardones" project threatens drinking water supplies and ecosystems in southern Baja California.  


ELAW Staff Scientists worked closely with Mexican partner organizations Defensa Ambiental del Noroeste (DAN) and El Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) to review the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed gold mine. 


News of the controversial project and the findings of ELAW Staff Scientists have been picked up by Mexico's press.  Peninsular Digital reports: "The Environmental Impact Assessment (MIA) for the Los Cardones mining project 'lacks credibility,' according to a study by the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide."

The analysis of ELAW Staff Scientists revealed that the proposed disposal of waste rock into 

water-filled tailings ponds poses an unknown risk of toxic acid mine drainage into water 
supplies and the local habitat. This disposal method also makes it impossible to return the site to its former condition once the mining operation is over. ELAW Scientists are also concerned about the impacts of a desalination plant proposed for Baja's coast, to provide freshwater for mining operations.
Good news was reported in Sudcaliforniano: Mexico's environmental agency, SEMARNAT, has denied a permit for a change of land use, required before the project can move ahead.  
Read more here:

Sudcaliforniano (November 8, 2012)
Semarnat says No to Los Cardones project

Sudcaliforniano (November 6, 2012)
Environmental groups challenge Los Cardones Project (November 6, 2012)
ELAW says mining project lacks credibility