This has been a growing cry from residents of Baja California Sur concerning the creation of Concordia, an open pit mine in the Sierra de la Laguna. Is this opposition justified?
There is a Colorado mining company that is called Vista Gold Corp. that owns a gold mine called Concordia that used to be named Paredones Amarillos in the lower foothills of the United Nations protected Biosphere of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains 55 km south east of La Paz, Baja California Sur. Vista Gold issued a press release Sept of 2010 concerning the name change which you can see here:
[ DENVER, Sept. 7 Vista Gold Corp. ("Vista" or the "Company") (TSX & NYSE Amex Equities: VGZ) today announced that it has changed the name of its wholly-owned Paredones Amarillos gold project in Baja California Sur, Mexico to the Concordia gold project. The Company believes this will better reflect the integration of the project with the environmental, social and economic priorities of the region. The name Concordia (translated as "agreement" or "oneness") was selected after a wide-ranging dialogue with local communities and other project stakeholders. The name change is part of a broad program intended to communicate Vista's commitment to developing the Concordia gold project in a way that is consistent with contemporary standards for sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and the health and safety of the communities in which the Company operates.
Fred Earnest, Vista's President and COO, stated, "In May of this year, we hired Hector Araya as the new General Manager of Concordia. With his participation, we are changing the way we communicate with the local community and officials concerning the very real benefits offered by the Concordia gold project, which could include significant opportunities for direct and indirect employment, education, and improved quality of life. Vista is working hard to communicate to stakeholders that the Concordia gold project will employ state of the art environmental practices and operate in a manner that is designed to protect the natural environment and the Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere."
The Company believes that the name change reflects the spirit of its collaboration and the values it shares with the local communities and project stakeholders as the Concordia gold project moves forward.
Vista Gold claims that while the Concordia gold mine will be an open pit mine, it will not be environmentally damaging even though they will be using heavy blasting and leeching ponds with the toxic chemical cyanide, to extract the gold. See from Wikipedia as to this type of process. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_cyanidation
There is however a growing opposition to this large open pit mine because it's location in the United Nations protected biosphere which the UN says the Sierra Laguna is a very important water source and this along with not only the ground water being contaminated by the leeching process but the blasting required as well as the massive trucks that will be used to obtain this gold.
In fact this Sunday January 16th there is to be 5000 person demonstration at el Tule beach in the corridor of Los Cabos. This is not the first or or the last of such demonstrations as more and more people do not believe what the company says concerning the environmental damage caused by this kind of mining. Quaayaip is behind organizing this and many other protest as well as creating meetings with geologist and mining engineers from here in Mexico that oppose what the company has claimed to be safe.
The Concordia mine plans calls for the creation of a very large pit to extract the gold and according to mining engineers and geologist that I listened to in a Cabo meeting explained while they are in favor of mining in general, this is not the place of method to use in an area they felt could and most likely will have a negative if not a devastating effect on a large part of Baja Sur.
I quote from their own website “Consistent with our strong commitment to environmental and social responsibility, we have also initiated a comprehensive social engagement program to maintain strong support from the local communities. Currently, we are awaiting resolution and issuance of the Change of Forest Land Use permit and a number of minor permits necessary to begin construction.” The change of the Forest Land Use permit they are basically asking for is to allow them to do something that the Biosphere del La Laguna was created to protect.
The price of Gold soaring lately and possibly more in the future has caused the greed factor to overtake the protection of the environment. This by no means is the only possible threat to an almost pristine Baja environment and I'm sure there will be other projects or developments in the future that need to checked in order for Baja to remain environmentally clean.
I do not want to sound one sided concerning this project or others as I would like to show both sides. However at this time from what I have been able to find out via a friend of mine that is a certified Geologist in California, whose company is in the business of cleaning up and protecting groundwater, and my own research. I do not believe this project should go forward and the opposition is justified.. I of course invite anyone from Vista Gold Corp. or others to speak up with more convincing proof as to why this should be allowed especially in a United Nations protected Biosphere that could be damaging in so many ways.
If you are a property owner, regular travel to or just care about the Baja Sur area, please at least open your eyes, do some research, make up your own mind and get involved as this will affect a lot of us positively or negatively?
Website for Vista Gold corp. http://www.vistagold.com/concordia.php
Website for Vista Gold http://www.vistagoldno.com/
Blog in Spanish with several videos showing the opposition http://quaayaip.blogspot.com/
Website (Spanish) dedicated to enlisting more opposition http://www.bajasurenpeligro.com/
Wikipedia explanation of proposed gold extraction using cyanide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_cyanidation