MAC: Mines and Communities

Mexico's Nahuatl Community Forces Ternium Hylsa to Pay

Published by MAC on 2009-06-08
Source: La Jornada

The company made roads for transport, cutting down trees causing grave damage, communities stated

After 18 days of roadblocks by the Indigenous San Miguel de Aquila community, steel company Ternium Hylsa has paid the 20 million pesos it owed for environmental damages caused by mining exploration in their area.

Ternium has iron operations in Argentina, Guatemala and United States, as well as Mexico, and is one of the leading steel companies in Latin America. 


Nahuatl Community Forces Steel Company Ternium Hylsa to Pay Millions Owed
By Gladis Leon Gonzalez
12th May 2009

After 18 days of roadblocks in the indigenous community San Miguel de Aquila, steel company Ternium Hylsa paid the 20 million pesos that it owed for environmental damages provoked by mining exploration in the area. Members of the Nahuatl community stated that they will continue their negotiations with the steel producer, with the goal of establishing a "social contract" in which the community benefits from the extraction of mineral wealth.

It's worth remembering that April 18, inhabitants of San Miguel de Aquila demonstrated the discontent caused by Hylsa breaking its agreements. Hylsa had committed to making economic reparations for the environmental damages caused in the municipality: deforestation and the opening of roads to explore new mineral deposits which the steel company would later petition the Secretary of Economy for permission to mine, without the consent of the community.

Last Friday, during an assembly in the Nahuatl community, Ternium Hylsa representatives made a payment of 20 million pesos for environmental damages caused by the exploration of the territory. Still, the community will seek the installation of a round-table for dialogue, through which the company will commit to respecting indigenous rights and autonomy, their free determination, and also the environment.

According to information from the indigenous community, the company obtained more than 40 million tons of minerals during more than 20 years, and paid 1.5 million pesos annually to the community for this extraction.

"The permit allowed the company to cut paths with machetes and drill 7 holes in La Estancuela; however, the company made roads for transport, cutting down trees in distinct parts of the community causing grave damage to the regions they explored," reads a document from the assembly. They also denounced that, although the community gave permission for the exploration of 480 acres, Ternium Hylsa explored more than 12,000 acres.

Now, what the indigenous community seeks is that the company continue its work of exploration and mining, but that the community members benefit through the payment of royalties for the use of the land, and an extra payment for the minerals extracted; as well as the establishment of a temporary occupation contract, not one of full domain.


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