What do you do when a site rich for mining is in the same location as endangered and religious-based eco systems for local wildlife and indigenous tribes? That’s a tough question, one which is faced by First Majestic Silver Corp., a Canadian mining company looking to mine the area of Wixariko, Mexico for rich quantities of silver and gold. This question is neatly balanced between Canadian interests in the mining potential of the lustrous area and the religious, cultural, and monetary interests of the local populace of Wixarika, or the Huicholes as they are best known. Both sides of the issue are complex and in need of further investigation. Sustainable and eco friendly facets are also a consideration, since this area is an endangered ecological system.
First Majestic Silver Corp. has already been granted six thousand hectares, most of which lies within this reserve, for twenty-two mining concession give to them. The mining company would provide jobs for local residents, something which is sorely needed since only a few sources of income are available in the area, including tourism, which would be negatively affected by the mining operations. First Majestic Silver Corp. is offering large concessions to the Wixarika, including seven hundred and sixty one hectares of land set aside for their sacred springs and willingness to completely give up access to Cerro Quemado mountain. An old former mine which was in operation several decades in the past will be reactivated, and as much of the old traditions observed, as possible. Juan Carlos Gonzalez is manager of the Minera Real Bonanza, which is a subsidiary of First Majestic, handling operation on the Real de Catorce project. He emphasizes that he wishes to run a sustainable, eco friendly management of the mining in that area with as little impact to the local people as possible.
The Huicholes have put their foot down, saying that this is non-negotiable. They cite the Mexican President’s promise to protect their cultural and religious areas. Their sacred sites include Wirikuta, a place of regular pilgrimage for the Wixarika, which they believe to be the birthplace of the sun. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) declared in 1998 that Wirikuta is one of the world’s fourteen natural sacred sites which needed to be protected. The matter is being investigated by James Anaya, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues.
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“Battle for ‘birthplace of the sun’ in Mexico – Features – Al Jazeera English.” AJE – Al Jazeera English. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2011. http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/10/20111027125212764306.html?utm_content=automateplus&utm_campaign=Trial6&utm_source=SocialFlow&utm_medium=MasterAccount&utm_term=tweets.