Three years after a mine belonging to Grupo México caused the worst ecological disaster in Mexican history, the mining giant owned by Mexico’s second richest person, German Larrea Mota Velasco, has failed to fulfill its obligations with the victims, a new UN report said.
“Business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights independent of States’ abilities and/or willingness to fulfill their own human rights obligations,” the UN said after a special Working Group visited Mexico to review how business practices affect human rights.
In August 2014, Buenavista del Cobre, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, spilled 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of copper sulphate and heavy metals into the Sonora and Bacanuchi rivers. This environmental disaster affected approximately 24,000 people directly and 250,000 people indirectly in seven municipalities on the banks of the Sonora River, 25 miles south of the Arizona border.
Mexico’s federal environmental authorities found 55 irregularities in the activities of Buenavista del Cobre. Grupo Mexico was fined 23 million pesos (about $1.8 million) and agreed to contribute to a trust fund of 2 billion pesos (about $154 million) for redress, reparation and compensation for economic and environmental damages and health problems caused in the communities affected by the spill.
In addition, Grupo Mexico committed to take a number of measures, including installing 28 water treatment plants with technology to filter out heavy metals and building a clinic to treat those whose health was affected.