Costs of Mexico copper mine spill climbs to almost $140 million

Costs of Mexico copper mine spill climbs to almost $140 million

Close to 40,000 cubic meters of wastewater from Buenavista copper mine ended up on Sonora's waterways.

The estimated cost of environmental damage from the spill from a copper mine operated by Grupo Mexico  (BMV:GMEXICOB) in Sonora State last August has been estimated in over $133.7 million, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) said.

The figure, Radio Imagen (in Spanish) reports, is based on preliminary assessments of the damage caused to water, flora, fauna, and wildlife, as well as information on water quality from the Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) and the National Forest Commission (Conafor) on ecological effects.

The mine, located only about 40 km from the U.S. border, was forced to partially idle activities early last month, as Mexico's environmental prosecutor Profepa said Grupo Mexico failed to abide by applicable rules, incurring in "highly risky activities."

So far the company has been charged with more than $3 million in fines. Sonora State governor Guillermo Padres Elias initially put the cost of the spill at about $62 million.

Authorities say the environmental damage has short, medium, and long-term effects, but the full extent will not be known until more time has passed.

Top mining state

Sonora is home to more than a quarter of Mexico's mining industry and leads in gold, copper and graphite production.

Mexico's federal government recently opened up the country's vital energy sectors such as electricity generation and oil production to private companies.

In 2009 an American subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, Asarco, paid the U.S. government a record $1.79 billion to settle hazardous waste pollution in 19 states.

Image from archives.