Mexico: Mining impacts on communities’ right to health in Puebla

Photo credit: PODER

In 2014, Proyecto sobre Organización, Desarrollo, Educación e Investigación (PODER), Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC) and Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Rural (CESDER) began a joint ex-ante human rights impact assessment to evaluate the potential negative impacts of open pit mining project Project Ixtaca on flora and fauna, natural ecosystems, environment health, and the human rights of four communities in the town of Puebla: Ixtacamaxtitlán, Tetela de Ocampo, Zautla, and Aquixtla. The assessment was designed to gather information on and assess four core human rights principles: the right to health, the right to a healthy environment, the right to water, and the right to clean air. The assessment was composed of a qualitative evaluation of the land, landscape, atmosphere, flora, fauna, and ecological balance.

The assessment was conducted over a 20 month period. Findings include negative impacts on the health of the four communities (including noise and air pollution, cardio-respiratory ailments and diseases, water contamination, and overexposure to heavy metals known to organ failure) and their shared environment (including water contamination, soil toxicity, and mercury pollution. Collaborators note that 70% of respondents interviewed during the investigation believe that the project would have negative impacts on their health, while 20% of respondents say the project has already affected their health and families, both physically and emotionally.

The inhabitants of Ixtacamaxtitlán met on 17 April 2016 to share and assess findings as the final step to produce the report. The next step will be to share it with  interested parties (the company, governmental institutions, affected communities) for their analysis and comments.

Timeline

2014: Community-based human rights impact assessment begins

2016: Community members & supporting NGOs produce report and share it with stakeholders