Author: Shreema Mehta
Coastal communities living in Baja California Sur, Mexico, achieved a huge victory recently in blocking an offshore mining project — one of several proposed projects to dredge up minerals from the sea.
SEMARNAT, Mexico’s federal environmental authority, denied a license for the Don Diego offshore phosphate mining project proposed by Exploraciones Oceanicas, which is owned by US-based Odyssey Mining and Mexican mining giant MINOSA. The agency determined the project would be harmful to the area’s population of endangered loggerhead turtles because it would destroy the seabed-dwelling organisms on which the turtles feed.
This decision blocks an industrial project that would have been devastating to the coastal ecosystem of Ulloa Bay in Baja California Sur. In addition to being a critical habitat for loggerhead turtles, it is on the endangered grey whale’s annual migratory route from Alaska to Baja California Sur, where the whales give birth to their young. The Bay also supports a thriving fishing industry.
The project was estimated to extract, over 50 years, 350 million tons of phosphate sand from the seabed, in an area equivalent to 60% of Mexico City.