Environment Secretary Toledo. Environment Secretary Toledo.

Miner rejects government’s claim of health, environmental damage caused by spill

Water quality has improved, says Grupo México of river where 2014 spill occurred

The mining company Grupo México has rejected the government’s claim that a spill at the Buenavista copper mine in Sonora caused environmental and health damages.

The spill of over 40,000 cubic meters of copper sulfate acid solution occurred in 2014.

Environment and health officials carried out studies to determine the effects of the spill, but Grupo México refutes their findings.

“There is no scientific proof that links the spill to effects on natural resources or health in the area,” it said in a press release.

“Water quality measurements of the Sonora river after the accident have even been lower than those during the 10 or more years before it happened.”

The company added that it has carried out a monitoring program in local wells with the National Water Commission (Conagua) over the last five years.

“We contributed 2 billion pesos (US $105 million) initially planned for the recovery. There is no noncompliance on the part of Grupo México,” it said.

The company defended itself by adding that its operations function under the highest international standards and said it was in favor of sustainable economic and social development.

“The [senior officials’] visit to Sonora should be an impulse for dialogue [and] understanding and collaboration between governments, civil society, the academic community and private industry, but not for conflict or the proliferation of unfounded or inexact versions,” it said.

At a press conference on Monday, Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer charged that the company had failed to fulfill its commitments to aiding victims of the spill and repairing environmental damages.

Environment Secretary Victor Manuel Toledo said the company had 15 days to answer a government subpoena concerning its alleged failure to comply with those commitments.

“Grupo México is the cause of this environmental and health crisis in the Sonora River region,” he said, adding that the company earned 100 billion pesos (US $5.2 billion) in 2018, a “detail that is important in the moment of negotiation.”

Grupo México said it was “deceptive” to relate profit generation to the quality of the operation and stated its commitment to transparency as a public company.

Sources: Reforma (sp), Milenio (sp)

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