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Mining, and data mining

23 January 2012

Via Inca Kola News:

San José del Progreso, Oaxaca. In the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca one person was killed and another injured during a confrontation between mining opponents and police on January 18th. The middle aged farmer and a woman in her twenties, both indigenous Zapotecs, were among a group of villagers trying to block the path of an excavator working for the Canadian Mining Company Fortuna Silver. Bernardo Méndez and Abigail Vasquez were shot by local police and plainclothes gunmen working for the Vancouver-based mining company. San José del Progreso, located 50 km south of Oaxaca City, has been a flash point for violence since an alliance of local environmentalists and farmers occupied the gold and silver mine in early 2009.

Despite widespread resistance and an ongoing conflict that already claimed the lives of two people in summer 2010, Fortuna Silver began commercial operation of the mine last September. As the installations are located in an arid valley, smooth operation is heavily dependent on water access to process the ore. The contamination of the scarce resource is among the main concerns of the mining opponents, many of whom grow vegetables for a living and rely on clean water for irrigation. The inhabitants of Magdalena Ocotlán, a village adjacent to the mine that hosted a nationwide environmentalist convention in 2010, have so far successfully prevented the construction of a sewage duct leading to the ore-processing installations. Fortuna Silver has since tried to get water access at all cost, recently settling for a deal with San José’s pro-mining camp. The scheme allows the mine to tap into a newly built well on village lands to keep its operations going throughout the dry season. It was at the building-site of the new water duct that Bernardo Méndez was killed. He and his neighbors had gathered to stop the machine digging a trench because it had damaged their own fresh water access.

Mining operations in Oaxaca are backed both by the new governor Gabino Cué and the ousted Party of Institutionalized Revolution (PRI) which still enjoys widespread support in the countryside. Contrary to the precepts of international law, the indigenous population of the region was never consulted about the mining project. The recent violence has prompted various social organizations in Oaxaca, among them an influential teachers’ union, to demand the end of mining operations.

Otto is an unrepentant capitalist, and makes his not-so-ill-got gains from mining investments (and selling investment advise). His English-speaking clients are ill-served by not paying attention to Spanish-language media, and the English-language business press’ reluctance to cover these kinds of events. This translation happened to come from the English-language website of the Unfortunately for his English-speaking clients, they don’t get the information they need from their media. This particular translation happened to appear on the English-language site run by the Communist Workers of Iran. That doesn’t mean the events never happened, nor that they can be dismissed as unimportant to business investors.

That their investments may not be accepted by the community (or that their investments may be in violation of the law, and — even if tolerated by the authorities today — may be subject to review and sanctions) is exactly the sort of information an investor or anyone working in Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America had damn well pay attention to. Investors are ill-served by NOT receiving this kind of information, and if they’re not reading Inca Kola News (and subscribing to the weekly newsletter), they’re probably not doing the minimum due diligence any investor should.

And, yes, MexFiles is back… occasionally. As I said in what I thought would be the final post, Mex Files’ “razon social” was the lack of English-language coverage of Mexico beyond the usual drugs, tourism and retirement living themes. At least in some areas there is better coverage, although it still tends to be framed in U.S. terms (would anyone outside Mexico be talking about anti-mining protests in Oaxaca unless it involved Canadian investors? Well, except for the communists, who are going to frame it in their own terms). Not that I don’t also tend to see things from a foreigner’s point-of-view (impossible not to), but what occasional posts I can do (and more on that in another post) are those that highlight important developments the foreign media is overlooking or downplaying (like the return of AMLO, who will be a more important figure in our upcoming presidential elections than the foreign commentators have so far discussed) or where the historical and cultural back story is absent from the reported story.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Allen Graham permalink
    23 January 2012 12:17 pm

    Thank you for bringing this to light.
    So-called Canadian miners are no more than paper shells run by shills.
    The investors have no idea and “due dilligence” is non-existent.
    The Canadian Government usually welcomes input like this and normally will take action.
    Now, the question is, how to we get their attention ?

    • 25 January 2012 5:41 pm

      Well Allen, you could forward this post to your MP and maybe the Sun or Province newspapers.

  2. 25 January 2012 5:39 pm

    Good to read you again… Guess, my compatriots are not known for their nice “Canadian-ness” in mining circles,eh?

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