Mexico: Torex Gold responds to 4 cases of killings and the one disappearance of labour rights defenders and workers in the Media Luna mine in Guerrero over the past 3 years

The Canadian mining company Torex Gold is the owner of the Media Luna mine in Guerrero, Mexico.  From 2017 until 2020 the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has registered the killing of four labour rights defenders who worked directly in or with the mine; 2017: Víctor and Marcelino Sahuanitla Peña, 2018: Quintin Salgado, 2019: the disappearance of Oscar Hernández Romero and 2020: Oscar Ontiveros Martínes. 

For more information about the killings, please the cases in our data base of attacks against human rights defenders in the context of business and human rights, and more information on our website in Spanish.

We contacted Torex Gold to respond to these killings; the response can be found below.  We contacted Torex Gold in 2019 to respond to the disappearance; the response can also be found below. 

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Company response
1 June 2020

Torex Gold response

Author: Torex Gold Resources

...Our protection of human rights is paramount, and we invite  you to visit our site to see firsthand the values that we hold, and how we apply those values in our approach to relationships with our employees, stakeholders and neighbouring communities.  We are completely transparent in this regard and you are welcome to visit anytime. Our objective is to be a benchmark in the global mining industry when it comes to human rights issues.

With respect to the four individual cases about which you are inquiring, while these individuals have, at some point, had employment relationships with Torex, it would be inaccurate and irresponsible to associate their deaths with human rights violations by the Company. The four certainly died violently; and unfortunately, they are not the only ones that have recently died violently in this region of Guerrero. We presume that these four have been selected because they had a past employment relationship with Torex or with a contractor that worked on our site; however, we can assure you that these were criminal matters that were quite outside of our control...

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Company response
29 October 2019

Torex Gold Resources response

Author: Torex Gold Resources

...Torex Gold knows nothing about the disappearance of Oscar Hernandez. That said, we don’t expect that such a statement from us would change the mind of anyone that believes otherwise.

At Torex we are very proud of what we have built and operate in a rather complex social environment in Guerrero State of Mexico. We have a productive relationship with the union and equally productive relationships with employees. We are particularly proud of the commitment our employees have made to working safely and protecting the environment. They are delivering top tier performance in those areas, as well as top tier performance in producing gold. They are a team that works very well together.

We strive to create a workplace experience that results in ‘everyone willingly giving their best’. That approach includes excellent pay, health care benefits, profit sharing, etc., but more importantly we create a workplace environment that employees want to be a part of and are proud to be a part of. Our employee turnover rate is about half of the average for the Mexican mining industry, and most that leave only do so to take a job that is closer to home and their families... 

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Item
11 October 2019

Missing Union Activist in Mexico Threatens NAFTA Sign-Off

Author: Prospect

…Oscar Hernández Romero, a community leader, has been missing since September 23 and is feared dead. The local government in Guerrero, one of the poorest and most dangerous states in Mexico, has made no attempt to investigate the disappearance, and neither has the federal government. The case has gotten almost no coverage in the United States, although the Mexican press has discussed it.

Hernández, from Cócula, Guerrero, was a leader in the campaign to unionize the Canadian mining company Torex Gold Resources, which set up shop in 2017. He was active in calling attention to environmental and labor violations by the company, recently traveling to Mexico City to discuss it with government officials…

The Hernández disappearance shows the real challenges to improving the experience for Mexican workers on the ground. Trump, no friend to workers in the United States, professes that he wants to improve worker’s fortunes in Mexico as a way of diminishing  U.S. corporate flight there—particularly in manufacturing. But it’s an open question whether Mexico can deliver on its promises, which has House Democrats wary of any deal without teeth…

 

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Item
27 November 2017

United Steelworkers and Mexican Mineworkers Demand Justice for Protesters Killed in Mexico

Author: USW

...The United Steelworkers (USW) in Canada and the United States join the Mexican National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers (“Los Mineros”) in demanding justice for the families of two protesters against the Media Luna mining operations in Guerrero, Mexico, owned by the Canadian company Torex Gold Resources, who were killed on Nov. 18. 

In a letter to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and chief NAFTA negotiator Cynthia Freeland, USW International President Leo W. Gerard and Canadian National Director Ken Neumann called on the Canadian government to meet with Mexican authorities, the employer and Los Mineros to reach a solution to the conflict that avoids further violence. 

Workers at the mine have been on strike since Nov. 3, protesting working conditions and demanding the right to join Los Mineros. The workers have been supported by residents of local communities. Members of the company-supported protection union, the CTM, have been accused of responsibility for the attacks.

According to the USW leaders, the conflict at Media Luna underscores the need for enforceable labor rights protections that must be implemented prior to the launch of a new NAFTA. Without such measures, they argue, “there is little possibility for improving freedom of association and closing the wage gap that has driven the relocation of Canadian jobs.”...

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