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article imageMining plans threaten habitat of Monarch butterflies in Mexico

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     May 9, 2016 in Environment
Endangered Monarch butterflies face their greatest threat as the largest mining company in Mexico plans to reopen a copper mine inside the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, home to tens of millions of monarchs during winter.
Mexico’s largest mining conglomerate, Grupo México, has been permitted to reopen an old copper mine that was closed 25 years ago in Angangueo, a town in the heart of the monarch biosphere reserve.
Environmentalists fear that the amount of water used by the mine will dry out nearby springs and possibly kill the fir trees in which the monarchs congregate. Residues of arsenic, bromine, lead, barium, cadmium, chrome and mercury left behind by mining are expected to cause significant environmental damage.
Silvestre Chávez Sánchez, the elected leader of a community near the monarch reserve said:
We know that no mining project in Mexico has ever brought lasting development for local people, but has always had problems associated with natural resource destruction.
However, Mayor of Angangueo denied any detrimental effect on the monarch butterflies or their habitat due to reopening of the mine. He said:
Under the new legal framework, mining companies are bound to share 7% of their earnings with the municipalities, which would undoubtedly benefit the people of Angangueo, even before taking into consideration job creation and social programs. The environment will surely benefit, as the mining company will be required to comply with several safety measures if they are to exploit the minerals, helping in the process to clean up.
A recent study predicted that the Monarch butterflies could become extinct within the next 20 years due to multiple factors such as extreme weather, milkweed-killing herbicide use, illegal logging, mining and corruption.
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