dorset chiapas solidarity

October 26, 2015

Mexican Farmers Accuse Mining Companies of Shady Tactics in Chiapas

Filed under: Mining — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:08 pm

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Mexican Farmers Accuse Mining Companies of Shady Tactics in Chiapas

Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F., Truthout | Report

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The status of Soconusco as one of the wettest areas of Mexico makes it a very important region, with a complex hydrological network containing many permanent rivers. (Photo: Renata Bessi)

The status of Soconusco as one of the wettest areas of Mexico makes it a very important region, with a complex hydrological network containing many permanent rivers. (Photo: Renata Bessi)

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Alberto Villatoro, a farmer in the fertile region of Los Cacaos in Chiapas, Mexico, recalls, with a mixture of sadness and anger, how innocently he used to walk over the area’s silvery blue rocks.

“I can remember those metals in the river ever since I was a child,” he told Truthout. “We would kick them around on the paths, unaware that it was titanium.”

Now those same rocks have become highly sought after, and the Chinese mining company Honour Up Trading is seeking to gain control of large swaths of land in Villatoro’s community to exploit one of the biggest seams of titanium in Mexico. “We’ve already had open-pit titanium mining here [in 2009]. Now they want to build the tunnel and leave us living on land resembling an eggshell,” he said. “That would be the end of our shared land.”

Mexico’s government gave the green light for titanium mining to occur below 500 of the 530 hectares that make up the Los Cacaos community, via underground tunnels stretching from the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range up to the upper section of the town.

“We’ve already had open-pit titanium mining here. Now they want to build the tunnel and leave us living on land resembling an eggshell.”

Villatoro and his neighbors in Los Cacaos express acute fears about the potential environmental effects of Honour Up Trading’s plans. “If they build tunnels, the mountain will collapse, because it is a very wet area,” Villatoro told Truthout. He believes that local leaders “were tricked into signing off on the exploration process” by the mining company, he added.

Florentina Antonio Morales, a local farmer echoed this allegation. “They came here to trick us, that’s the truth,” she told Truthout. “They promised us a lot. They said they would build a market, a road, a park for the kids. But none of that went any further than just talk.”……..

The Global Imperative Behind Mining in Chiapas

The majority of concessions in the state of Chiapas are located in the region's Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains. (Photo: Renata Bessi)

The majority of concessions in the state of Chiapas are located in the region’s Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains. (Photo: Renata Bessi)

The push to increase titanium mining in Chiapas is part of a global response to the demand for titanium created by the increasing popularity of laptops and mobile phones, which require titanium to produce.

Hans Vestberg, the executive director of Ericsson, predicted in 2012 that by the year 2020 there would be 50 billion mobile phones connected. Manufacturing a single mobile phone requires at least 200 types of metals, including titanium.

Titanium is also used in the weapons, aeronautical, naval and nuclear engineering industries and is heavily sought after by the United States, the European Union, Japan and China.

Mexico is one of five Latin American countries where the presence of the material has been identified, along with Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Peru. Mexico’s Finance Ministry maintains that the country could meet a significant part of the world’s demand for titanium, pointing to deposits in the subsoil of Chiapas.

According to the Mexican government’s Comprehensive Mining Administration System (SIAM) and Infomex, 99 mining concessions have been granted by the federal government in the state of Chiapas in 2015, with operating licenses that are valid until 2050 and 2060. The peasant land and indigenous territory granted in concessions totals approximately 1,057,081 hectares, the equivalent of 14.2 percent of the state’s area.

To read the rest of this article, go to: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33294-mexican-farmers-accuse-mining-companies-of-shady-tactics-in-chiapas

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