MAC: Mines and Communities

Grupo Mexico Enters Cananea After Police Break Rally

Published by MAC on 2010-06-11
Source: Bloomberg, Reuters

For three years, workers have occupied a Mexican copper mine, owned by the country's biggest miner, Grupo Mexico.  The company has been subject to a bitter, long-standing, international campaign, accusing it of numerous human rights abuses. See:

Last week, backed by state police, Grupo Mexico reportedly regained "control" of Cananea.  Although the Spanish-language La Jornada reported two workers wounded by fire arms as a result of this action, US news service Bloomberg maintains that  "Nobody was injured".

According to Mineweb (8th June 2010): "The national mining union holds President Felipe Calderon's government responsible for any violence or bloodshed that may happen now and demands a reversal of this illegal, military invasion".

The north American United Steelworkers Union has condemned the Cananea assault: "Mexico's President Felipe Calderon has launched a reign of terror against working people," declared Leo W. Gerard, the union's International president.

"We call on the U.S. Congress to halt delivery of all funding to Mexican security forces so long as they are used to attack workers who are exercising their freedom of association. Our American union members' tax dollars cannot be used to support a union-busting government in Mexico."


Grupo Mexico Enters Cananea After Police Break Rally

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez


7 June 2010

Grupo Mexico SAB, the largest mining company in Mexico, regained control of its Cananea copper mine after police removed protesters and secured the facility that has been shut periodically since July 2007 over a labor dispute.

Police took over the mine at 4 p.m. local time yesterday, Mexico's Interior Ministry said in a statement. Nobody was injured from a fire in a storage facility at the mine, the ministry said, adding that it was extinguished quickly.

"We're already inside," Grupo Mexico spokesman Juan Rebolledo said today in a telephone interview. The company is evaluating mine conditions to determine any work required to reopen it, Rebolledo said.

Union workers at Cananea, the world's largest deposit of copper, have been striking on and off for about three years. Union members threatened to blow up the development in February when the workers organization lost a legal appeal that allowed Grupo Mexico to fire striking workers.

Grupo Mexico's Chief Financial Officer Daniel Muniz said last month the company has 2,000 contractors ready to start working in the mine once safety conditions are met. The mine is capable of producing 190,000 tons a year of copper.

Grupo Mexico rose 33 centavos, or 1.14 percent, to 29.4 pesos on the Mexican Stock Exchange at 9:19 a.m. local time. The shares have more than doubled in the past year.

Copper for July delivery declined 3.8 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $2.7815 a pound at 8:53 a.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices earlier dropped to $2.734, the lowest level for a most-active contract since 6 October.

Mexican police and miners clash at Cananea mine


11 June 2010

MEXICO CITY - Mexican miners clashed briefly with federal police on Thursday at the Cananea copper mine, raising tensions which could complicate owner Grupo Mexico's efforts to reopen the pit after a nearly three-year-long strike was broken.

Two workers were injured during the scuffle, which began when unionized miners tried to block contract workers from entering the mine to start repairs, the union said in a statement. A spokeswomen for the Federal Police said one policemen had teeth knocked out in the clash but denied any miners were hurt.

"There were three large buses of scabs (the company) was bringing into the property and there was a confrontation between the miners and the federal police," Manny Armenta, a visiting representative of the United Steelworkers union, said. The U.S. union has backed the miners.

Federal Police took control of the mine in a late Sunday night raid after the union lost a long series of legal battles and a court ruled Grupo Mexico could fire the workers and reopen the copper mine, Mexico's largest.

The company has said the mine in northern Mexico near the U.S.-Mexico border could be running again as soon as the end of this year.

Cananea once produced 40 percent of Mexico's copper but has been closed since July 2007 when the strike began over health and safety concerns.

Grupo Mexico is planning to invest $3.8 billion in expanding Cananea to increase production there from 190,000 tonnes to 460,000 tonnes a year.

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