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Huichol Indians Protest Silver Mining Plan at Sacred Mountains

February 23, 2012 - 10:16am

As the rise in the price of silver over the past few years makes an increasing number of formerly prohibitively expensive excavation sites appear much more attractive to mining concerns, environmental and cultural issues remain to be resolved before global silver production can rise in earnest to meet growing demand for the physical metal.

A classic example of the clash between mining interests and cultural traditions played out last week in the mountains of central Mexico near Real de Catorce, a former silver mining town located several hundred miles north of Mexico City.

Huichols Object to Mining of Sacred Mountain Sites

Many native Huichol Indians from 22 communities gathered in Real de Catorce along with supporters to trek in traditional ceremonial dress and colorful headgear to the top of the nearby Cerro del Quemado Mountain from February 6th to the 7th.

The Huichol led group met to protest in a customarily prayerful way the joint interest of Canadian mining company First Majestic Silver and the Mexican mining company Real Bonanza in stripping two special mountains, El Cerro del Quemado and El Cerro Grande, of their silver reserves that are home to some of the natives’ most sacred ceremonial sites.

Although the established Huichol practice of ceremonial animal sacrifice has prompted some criticism of their cultural observances, their famously reverential use of the entheogenic cactus peyote has attracted considerable favorable attention, especially among anthropologists and individuals interested in taking that medicine for spiritual purposes.

First Majestic and Real Bonanza Make Attempts to Compromise

For their part, Vancouver based First Majestic and their Mexican partner, Real Bonanza have promised the locals that they would use safer modern mining techniques and offer social programs. The mining project is for 15 years and will have the company invest $100 million.

First Majestic, which has several other silver mining operations in Mexico, plans on investing over $10 million to renovate an abandoned hacienda near Real de Catorce, that will serve as a their offices and as a base for their social projects. The company has already opened a school to teach the local residents how to make silver jewelry.

This is one example of the headwinds miners will face as the investment demand for silver continues to steadily unfold.

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis



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About Dr. Jeffrey Lewis / Commentary Author

"In addition to running a busy medical practice, Dr. Jeffrey Lewis is the editor and publisher of Silver-Coin-Investor.com, where he provides practical information for precious metals investors".

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