Guatemala to operate open air Mine, Environmentalists Warn of impact on El Salvador

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By LatAm Reports Editor

The Guatemalan government gave permission to the Bluestone Resources mine on January 9. Environmentalists warn of pollution in the Lempa River

The Canadian capital firm Bluestone Resources officially announced on January 18, 2024 the activation of its mine in Cerro Blanco, with open sky mode, in Asunción Mita, Jutiapa, Guatemala, after receiving authorization from the Environmental Impact Study on January 9. Its goal is to get tons of gold from the area.

This was announced by environmental groups in the neighbouring country, including the Observatory of Extractive Industries (OIE).

Environmental experts have pointed out that operating an open-air mine is one of the most harmful practices for flora, fauna, aquifer mantles, lands and of course the population of the area, and warn that its operation, from Jutiapa, will cause high levels of pollution in the waters of Lake Gija, which is part of the upper basin of the Lempa River, so it will end up affecting the quality of water that serves about 3 million people in El Salvador.

The Central American Alliance Against Mining, the Heinrich Boll Central America Foundation and the Rio Lempa Trinational Border Commonwealth, among other civil entities in El Salvador, demanded that the Salvadoran government take concrete action to curb the activation of this open-air operation in Cerro Blanco.

Pedro Cabezas, a member of the Central American Alliance Against Mining, illustrated in a talk with El Diario de Hoy in 2022 that if the mining company operates in open sky – it will use more than 8 tons of arsenic a day for 14 years; it will abandon more than 200 million tons of toxic waste with high levels of deadly chemicals such as cyanide and heavy metals such as arsenic, which generate drainage acided for decades – in environmental damage that could last “at least until 2052.”

The Observatory of Extractive Industries stressed that this operation in the Cerro Cerro mine “involves serious environmental risks, especially for a transboundary basin. The mine will affect the El Tempisque ravine, which flows into Lake Guija, and which connects with the Lempa River; both crossing the border with El Salvador.”

The OIE also noted that the University of Virginia Tech (USA). He did a study that showed that the El Tempisque ravine, which then connects to Lake Gija, in Metapan, already exceeds the values of several heavy metals.

This approval to the Cerro Blanco Mine has been endorsed by the Government of Guatemala, through MARN, despite the fact that in 2022 there was a citizen consultation with the population of the area, when there were 7,475 votes against the mine, despite the fact that Bluestone Resources campaigned to convince them of the supposed benefits that the mine would bring them.

Faced with this setback before the population, the company Elevar Resources, which operates the Cerro Blanco mine as a subsidiary of Bluestone, presented a unconstitutionality against the Municipal Consultation Regulations, and managed to ensure that the Government of Guatemala did not take into account the popular consultation.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Salvador