Fortuna Silver subsidiary cleared of water contamination accusations in Mexico

One of the rainwater collection ponds in Magdalena Ocotlán. (Image by Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán).

Mexico’s Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection issued a report stating that the subsidiary of Canada’s Fortuna Silver Mines (NYSE: FSM), Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán, has not caused any pollution to rainwater collection ponds in the Magdalena Ocotlán municipality in the southern Oaxaca state.

The government agency reached its conclusion after inspecting Fortuna Silver Mines’ San José silver-gold mine, which is located some 400 metres from the ponds. Officials also inspected the ponds and ran lab tests on water samples.

The procedure was requested by some community members and activists from the “Front No to Mining for a Future for All,” who accused the mining company of releasing wastewater into the wells and endangering the local ecosystem and people’s health.

The inspection was requested by activists from the “Front No to Mining for a Future for All,” who accused the mining company of releasing wastewater into the wells

The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection – known as Profepa in Spanish – states that in 2020, “there haven’t been any accidental spill, filtrations, releases or leaks of dangerous materials or residues that could have an impact on the areas surrounding the mining operation. After looking at the beneficiation plant, which is operational, we couldn’t see any release or leakage of mine tailings onto the ground.”

The inspection focused on the beneficiation plant at San José, which employs a flotation process, and the tailings dam and deposit, both located in a different aquifer basin from those of the wells.

In a media statement, Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán said that the community should be reminded that tailings at the operation are inert and are classified by the environmental authorities as non-toxic. 

The miner also said that its processes are designed to generate zero water discharges and reuse 96% of the water, with the remaining 4% lost to evaporation. On top of this, the main source of water for the mining company comes from the Ocotlán de Morelos Wastewater Treatment Plant that Minera Cuzcatlán manages and maintains through a loan agreement with the Ocotlán City Council.

“We always knew that we had nothing to do with the possible contamination of the ponds,” said Luis Camargo, managing director of Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán. “However, the accusations against our company were not small and we hope that Profepa’s dictum corroborates our innocence and gives people some peace of mind.” 

According to Camargo, the company is willing to assist the community in figuring out what is causing alterations to the rainwater ponds.

Located in the Taviche Mining District in southern Oaxaca, the San José mine produced 7.9 million ounces of silver and 48,880 ounces of gold in 2019.

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