Some citizens of Mulegé, Baja California Sur, are disappointed after President López Obrador rejected a mining company’s request to expand its area of operation.
The president said last Thursday that the El Boleo mine will not be granted permission to expand saying, “The instruction is not to give permission … we can’t keep awarding these concessions.”
The Economy Ministry later released a correction to the president’s statement, noting that the company had not technically requested a concession, but a widening of the surface area where it may operate.
The copper, cobalt, zinc and manganese mine, located next to the port city of Santa Rosalía, applied in 2019 to expand its operations by 446 hectares, an application that has the support of the mayor.
Felipe Prado Bautista said he was disappointed with the decision, particularly because representatives from the Ministry of Environment had informed him that the application was on course for approval.
He explained that the mine’s current surface had been fully exploited so a widening of the area was needed. The decision means the closure of the company within five years, and the loss of 1,200 jobs.
“I think the president isn’t well informed; the El Boleo mine doesn’t cause any ecological damage; it’s a decision that is going to affect us tremendously,” he said.
He added that he had anticipated the mine would run for another 20 years.
The consortium that operates the mine said that “without more hectares to mine, Boleo won’t be able to continue operating. That’s why today more than ever it’s important that all of us who form the company are united,” it said in a statement on the company’s website.
El Boleo reopened mining operations under a Korean led consortium in 2015. Its mineral wealth was first exploited in the 1860s after rancher José Rosas Villavicencio discovered copper ore.