Concern in Mexico over gold exploration near nuclear plant

Environmentalists and community members expressed concerns after the Mexican government announced that Candelaria Mining was allowed to continue exploration at its Caballo Blanco gold project, located 65 kilometers northwest of the city of Veracruz.

The district-scale project consists of 14 contiguous mining claims that cover 19,815 hectares. It sits close to Mexico’s only nuclear power plant.

Talking to the news outlet ElRegio.com, physicist Bernardo Salas Mar, who is also a former employee of the Laguna Verde nuclear plant, said that authorities acted in an irresponsible way when they approved Candelaria’s activities. “Nuclear plants must be built in areas with low population density and where no industrial, fishing, agricultural, or livestock activities take place. Allowing a miner to operate there is absurd. This might entangle the objectives of the External Radiological Emergency Plan,” he said (in Spanish).

Since Caballo Blanco is an advanced-stage open-pit, heap leach gold mine, Salas Mar said that once explosions start to take place, the nearby nuclear reactors are likely to fail. “That’s the reason why the Secretary of Hydraulic Resources refused to allow the building of a dam in Laguna Verde’s mountains,” he added.

At the moment, Candelaria has mobilized a drill rig and initiated drilling on a 2,000-meter program of infill drilling at the northern La Paila zone. Seven holes are planned in this area which will seek to confirm the resource model and provide tighter drill spacing in some areas of the resource.