Gold mine for Baja California?

Dear friends,

We are pleased to announce 10 years of collaboration with Defensa Ambiental del Noroeste (DAN) — an inspiring organization of dedicated environmental leaders working to protect Mexico’s Baja California.  DAN attorney Maria Llano stopped by our office last week to celebrate our partnership and discuss the threat of an enormous open pit gold mine proposed for Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve.

Maria Llano (center) meets with ELAW staff

The proposed project would include a desalination plant, a 40-km aqueduct from the coast to the project site, and water-filled ponds for disposing of high volumes of cyanide soaked waste rock.

“The disposal method poses serious risk,” says Mark Chernaik, ELAW Staff Scientist.  “The tailings ponds could contaminate water supplies and the local habitat with acid mine drainage, and once the mining operation is over it will be impossible to return the site to its former condition.”

SEMARNAT (Mexico’s EPA) denied permission for the project twice, but a third Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted for an even larger project.

“The new version is worse than the original, calling for disposal of wastes in a thinner slurry that will impact a even larger area of undeveloped land,” says Mark.

ELAW’s science team worked closely with Maria and her colleagues at DAN to review the series of EIAs for the proposed gold mine.

“Now we have to wait until SEMARNAT makes a decision, hopefully rejecting the project again,” says Maria.  “If not, we will continue the struggle to promote the rule of law, and protect the biodiversity and the quality of life in the region.”

We will keep you informed of our progress in Mexico and around the world to level the playing field for grassroots advocates and local communities.


Maggie Keenan
Communications Director & Fellows Program Coordinator