Mexican mineworkers march against Americas Gold and Silver Corp.

San Rafael mine. (Image courtesy of Americas Gold and Silver Corporation).

Local media in Mexico report that about 400 people marched over the weekend in the Cosalá municipality, located in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, in support of some 200 workers from the San Rafael mine who have been on strike since January 26, 2020.

San Rafel is a low-cost silver-zinc-lead underground mine that is part of the Cosalá operation owned by Americas Gold and Silver Corporation (TSX: USA) and managed by Minera Cosalá SA de CV. The operation also includes the Los Braceros processing facility, the El Cajón project, several other smaller past-producing mines and numerous mineralized showings.

If it remains open, the San Rafael mine is expected to double current silver production and exceed 1 million ounces by 2021, driven by output growth from the recently developed Main, Central and Upper zones

According to El Universal newspaper, the striking workers are demanding safer working conditions, environmental protection measures, and a collective agreement that includes increased wages, productivity bonuses and medical services. During the weekend protest, they were joined by colleagues from the neighbouring Durango and Zacatecas states.

It is reported that protesters also said that the company was favouring the union led by Javier Villarreal, from the Confederation of Mexican Workers, and that they wanted to be led by the Mining, Metallurgical, Siderurgical and Similar Workers Union, known as Los Mineros, which is led by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, a senator from the left-wing, ruling Morena party.

But Americas Gold and Silver Corporation has said that it is following the decision made by the workers themselves to elect Villarreal’s union back in 2019 and that it is complying with the collective agreement.

In a five-page communiqué signed by the communications department of Minera Cosalá SA de CV and made public by the news site Línea Directa, the miner explained how it is complying with all safety measures required by law and how it is providing proper medical and health services to its employees, including private insurance and emergency training. 

The letter also says that Cosalá does weekly inspections to monitor the environmental impacts of its operations and participates in local green initiatives and other activities to support community development.

But the subsidiary of Americas Gold and Silver has alerted – via another media statement published by Expansión – that if the strike and the rallies continue, together with a blockade launched a week ago at the mine, it will have to permanently shut down San Rafael and its processing plant. 

Back on February 3, 2020, the Toronto-based firm announced a temporary halt to its operations. Management also said that even though the blockade was illegal and that it had already filed the legal motions with the Government of Mexico at the state and federal levels, it was open “to having good-faith discussions with the proper representatives of the certified union.”   

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