A protest action took place in Vancouver the same day Almaden Minerals announced the completion of a social impact assessment for its Ixtaca project, located in Mexico’s Ixtacamaxtitlán municipality in the eastern-central Puebla state.
The evaluation of Almaden’s gold-silver project was carried out by GMI Consulting and, according to a press release issued by the miner, it concluded that Almaden had consulted widely with the focus area communities, that the Ixtaca project was well understood, and that the SIA itself was successful in providing people with an opportunity to express their views on the impacts of the mine.
However, as this media statement was published, four Mexican activists touring Canada with the support of New York-based Latin America-focused organization PODER led a rally near the company’s headquarters in Vancouver. Ignacia Serrano, Alejandro Marreros, Francisca Zamora, Ignacio Carmona and people connected to PODER protested against what they call “irregular operations” by Almaden Minerals in Mexico.
The activists said in a press release that they held meetings to share their views on the Ixtaca mine with Canadian government officials and politicians from Global Affairs, International Trade, and parliamentary committees, as well as mining investors, trade unions, indigenous communities, and the press.
“We ask investors to stop investing in Almaden Minerals’ mining project because their money is at risk. The company has lied by not telling them about our resistance to the project, the legal actions that we have taken to defend our communities, and the securities complaints we’ve filed before the U.S. and British Columbia securities commissions,” Serrano, who according to Mexican media was born in Ixtacamaxtitlán and has been an activist against different mining projects in the region, said at the Vancouver protest.
This delegation also shared findings from a self-conducted Human Rights Impact Assessment in which they state that the Ixtaca project poses “threats to the region’s water supply, ecosystem, and residents’ health.” Serrano and her colleagues also say that the Canadian miner is violating legal and regulatory frameworks.
However, Almaden’s President and CEO, Morgan J. Poliquin, told MINING.com that his company has taken steps, such as the social impact assessment to make sure his company complies with the law and that everyone’s concerns are taken into consideration. “Without the approval of the local stakeholders, no project can go forward. Mining should be done safely and well or not at all,” he wrote in an email.
“Mexico is my second home and I am committed to building a good and safe project that will be beneficial to the region. We respect activism and share all concerns for human welfare and the environment. That is why we are so focused on open dialogue towards building a project that meets the highest environmental and social standards,” he added.
Poliquin mentioned that with regards to Ixtaca, the company has held eight large community meetings in the area, attended by as many as 3,300 people.
“I just came back from our most recent one where we had over 700 people in attendance,” the executive emphasized. “We want to make sure the voices of those people in Mexico are not overlooked. However, the four activists had no formal authorization from communities nearby the Ixtaca project to represent community views, and that the title of “community leaders” was self-appointed.”
“We take strong issue with the notion the group protesting in Canada in any way is representative of overall community views of the Ixtaca project.” he concluded.