TLAHUALILO, DURANGO, Mexico, July 11, 2012 /CNW/ - Canadian mining company Excellon Resources Inc. has threatened landowners of the Ejido "La Sierrita" and their adviser, Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC), with criminal proceedings and judicial action in response to the landowners' peaceful blockade of the company's La Platosa mine.
On July 8, 2012, more than 70 landowners of the Ejido located in the municipality of Tlahualilo, Durango, decided to carry out a peaceful blockade of Excellon's La Platosa mine. The landowners' actions are the result of the company's unwillingness to resolve festering disputes over a land rental contract between the company and the landowners dating back to April 2008.
In its July 11, 2012, press release, the company announced that the state and federal governments will intervene in the conflict between the company and the landowners in the next 24 to 48 hours.
The company calls the landowners' actions illegal, but fails to mention that these actions are the landowners' response to nearly eight months of repeated efforts by the Ejido to resolve the land rental contract disputes.
Having exhausted various channels of dialogue with little response from Excellon, the Ejido Assembly decided to exercise its legitimate right to peacefully protest in front of the mine in order to force the company to resolve the land rental contract disputes.
The Ejido also calls on Excellon to comply with the clauses of the contract requiring the construction of a water treatment plant, the granting of concessions, and to pay fair rental prices for the land, among other issues.
The company's threats represent a serious risk to the physical integrity and security of the landowners who are trying to peacefully demand that the company respect their human rights.
The landowners and their supporters are petitioning Excellon and government authorities in Mexico and Canada to ensure the safety of the landowners of the Ejido and to guarantee the landowners' rights to demand compliance with the land rental contract and to be protected from repressive action by local, state or federal officials.
Petitions are being sent to Peter Crossgrove, Excellon's Executive Chairman and Interim CEO, Mexico's President Felipe Calderón and the Canadian Embassy in Mexico.
In 2004, the mining company Excellon de Mexico, a subsidiary of the multinational corporation Excellon Resources Inc., established itself in Tlahualilo, Durango, leasing communal land from the Ejido "La Sierrita" land via an unfair contract designed almost exclusively for the benefit of the company.
In 2007, with the assistance of ProDESC, the Ejido conducted a blockade of the mine in order to address the unfair contract. In 2008, after three months of protest, the Ejido and Excellon signed a new contract, establishing provisions that require the company to comply with clauses that contribute to the development of community projects and better the quality of life of the landowners.
However, the landowners maintain Excellon has not lived up to its obligations, forcing the landowners to call for a revision of the contract.
Since November of 2011, the Ejido has repeatedly tried to sit down with Excellon leadership to resolve the conflicts. Representatives of the company delayed the dialogue process several times and showed little willingness to resolve the conflict despite acknowledging breaches and violations.
The parties agreed to another meeting on July 6 of this year, but the company unilaterally cancelled the meeting two days beforehand. Therefore, the members of the Landowners Assembly decided on July 8 to peacefully blockade the mine.
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