A Hidalgo mayor is calling for the re-categorization of a national park in order to legalize mining activity within its borders.
Located in the northwest of Hidalgo, Los Mármoles (The Marbles) National Park covers 23,000 hectares in the municipalities of Zimapán, Jacala, Pacula and Nicolás Flores and is home to a number of endangered animals including black bears, jaguars, pumas and ocelots.
Former president Lázaro Cárdenas signed a decree to establish the national park in 1936 and since then all mining activity has been illegal.
But Zimapán Mayor Érick Marte told the newspaper Milenio that a large number of people continue to live from the extraction of marble in the park.
He argued that the national park designation should be lifted so that mining activity can be regulated. There is a lot of interest: 70 applications for mining concessions have already been made, Marte said.
“. . . That doesn’t mean that [all] 70 would be in a position to work [but] there are at least five gold, copper and zinc mines that would be . . . once [the park] has a new designation. What we’re asking is for it to be categorized differently from a national park,” he said.
“Production would at least double in Zimapán, which is recognized as the mining capital of Mexico,” the mayor said, adding that legalizing mining in Los Mármoles is a good idea because the local economy would benefit and more resources would be injected into the federal government’s mining fund.
Gloria Tavera Alonso, an official with the Natural Protected Areas Commission, acknowledged that mining activity has been going on in the Zimapán area since 1700 and that some local communities have been calling for a change to Los Mármoles’ national park designation for at least 12 years.
“This proposal comes out of the communities, but not all of them; opinion is divided . . .” she said, explaining that most of the pressure to strip Los Mármoles of its national park designation has come from residents of Zimapán.
Tavera said the federal government will be “very responsible” in the granting of any concessions, adding that President López Obrador has made it clear that new mines will only be authorized if they will benefit communities equitably and not harm the environment.
Federal, state and municipal authorities are currently working with local communities to develop a management plan for Los Mármoles, she said, noting that the fact that the park is an important habitat for large mammals has been “placed on the table.”
The president of the Los Mármoles Advisory Council, Oldid Vargas, said that a better idea would be to focus on developing and promoting ecotourism in the park.
Source: Milenio (sp)