Seven months after the Mexican mining giant Grupo Mexico gained increased notoriety for causing the worst environmental disaster on Mexican territory, the multinational is close to winning the right to re-open the large Aznalcóllar mine in Southern Spain.
IndustriALL Global Union joins its Spanish affiliated unions in demanding full respect for labour rights and the environment if this repeat offender, Grupo Mexico, is awarded the contract to run the mine.
The open pit mineral resource has high levels of zinc, lead, copper and silver. And deeper exploration is expected to find more.
Aznalcóllar was the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in Spanish history in 1998, when a dam failure caused 5 million cubic metres to leak and destroy 4.634 hectares of countryside bordering the Donaña National Park. The previous operator Boliden failed to pay full reparations and the government reclaimed the mine.
The public tender process in the Province of Seville is now down to the final two bidders, with Grupo Mexico partnering with Andalusian group Magtel for a joint bid.
The final project proposals were submitted in December 2014 with a decision to be announced by 16 March 2015. Reopening the mine will create 400 direct jobs and 700 indirect jobs.
Both bids include promises to restore the local environment, water supplies, and take responsibility for social impacts of running the mine and any eventual closure.
While the competing bidder Emerita also has a poor record causing Spanish unions to be wary, Grupo Mexico’s shocking record of toxic spills, anti-union and anti community policy means commitments made on social and environmental sustainability in the company’s bid will require stringent attention to ensure they are kept.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina explains the special attention given to this tender process due to:
The outrageously irresponsible anti-union, anti-environmental behaviour of Grupo Mexico.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Fernando Lopes concludes:
“Wherever Grupo Mexico goes in the world, IndustriALL together with its affected affiliates, will be there to fight against the company’s irresponsible corporate behaviour and hold them to account.”
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