More than 28,000 Guatemalans from the municipality of Assumption Mitabordering El Salvador, are summoned this Sunday to the polls to pronounce on the operation of a Canadian mining company, rejected by environmentalists for alleged contamination.
The inhabitants of the area must decide whether to support or reject the extraction of gold and silver from the mining project White Hillowned by the group Bluestone Resources from Canada.
Six voting centers will be open from 07:00 to 17:00 local time.
The community consultation was convened by local government authorities and the process will be governed by the census of Supreme Electoral Tribunall, under the supervision of a dozen organizations that act as observers, including four Salvadorans.
“We have not identified major irregularities, but rather those that occur in all electoral processes, such as delays in the opening of polling stations,” Omar Torres, from the environmental group, told AFP. National Table against Metallic Miningof The Savior.
Bluestone Resources bought in 2017 from the Canadian mining company Goldcorp the project White Hill for 18 million dollars plus shares valued at about 9.9% of Bluestone’s capital.
However, the mine has not started operations due to the change from underground extraction to open pit.
Members of the local Catholic Church and environmental organizations are strongly opposed to the Cerro Blanco project, considering that will contaminate local water and forests.
Entities from Guatemala and El Salvador have expressed their concern about the eventual contamination of bodies of water shared by both countries: the Laguna de Güija and the river Lampthe main water source that supplies San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital.
The Lempa River, which originates in Guatemala, serves thousands of Guatemalan and Salvadoran peasants. In addition, dozens of fishermen in the lagoon fear a scarcity or disappearance of fish.
The main alarm is that open pit mining requires cyanide to separate precious metals.
However, the mine’s environmental supervisor, Fredy García, dismissed those concerns, assuring AFP that the company has treatment plants to eliminate toxic waste before discharging liquids into the Ostúa river, a tributary of the Güija lagoon and the Lempa river.
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