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Don Diego mining project poses grave risk to Mexican marine ecosystem
AIDA’s formal comments on the Environmental Impact Statement for the phosphate-mining project, proposed in a Baja California Sur bay, point to insufficient information about safeguards for the ecosystem, which is vital for both coastal communities and endangered species.
Mexico City, Mexico. The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) has commented on the Environmental Impact Statement for the Don Diego phosphate-mining project in Ulloa Bay, Baja California Sur. In their analysis, AIDA proved that the document lacks sufficient technical information to ensure that the project will not seriously damage the Bay. Ulloa Bay serves as an important marine ecosystem for coastal communities as well as for endangered species like the Blue and Humpback whales and the Loggerhead turtle.
The Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) presented the comments in AIDA’s name to Mexico’s Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). "The comments show that the Don Diego project, the first of its type in the region, could cause serious environmental damage," said Haydée Rodríguez, an AIDA attorney.
The primary reasons the project should not be authorized as presented are:
The project could cause irreversible damage to an ecologically vulnerable and biodiverse region, which includes Magdalena Bay, a mangrove ecosystem considered a Marine Region of Importance. The region is also home both to threatened marine species and to others vital to the fishing industry.
The Environmental Impact Statement lacks important information about possible impacts on the marine ecosystem and measures to avoid them.
The project involves a mining process that will greatly alter the marine environment: large boats will dredge the seabed and extract sand in search of phosphate, but in doing so may also extract living organisms.
The project will alter the marine ecosystem by unearthing sediments that contain toxic elements, such as uranium, that will be returned to the ocean after processing.
The exposed toxic sediments, along with the dredging and noise of the mining operation, will alter the habitat of endangered species of whales and turtles.
The Mexican government has national and international obligations to apply the Precautionary Principle. As such, they should deny permission to the project to ensure that it does not cause serious and irreversible environmental damage.
In authorizing the project, the Mexican government would violate international treaties that require it to protect marine environments and threatened and endangered species.
The project puts at risk fishing and tourism activities that provide the livelihoods of the region’s coastal communities.
You can see our full comments on the Don Diego Environmental Impact Statement here (in Spanish).