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(The following is translated to english from a letter received this week from Gabriel Zendejas, General Manager of La Cieneguita mine operated by Minera Rio Tinto)

 

Subject: FW: Events in La Cieneguita, Municipality of Urique, Chihuahua.
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2012 21:33:12 -0500

For your information dear friends and fellow miners,

Last week, acts of terrorism occurred in the Sierra of Chihuahua within the Municipality of Urique in Chihuahua state, where for more than a year, we have been living with criminal groups engaged in robbing and killing those who resist, without the authorities being able to stop them.  Last week, the company Gold Corp., Mina El Sauzal suffered the kidnapping of two employees. The distributors from Sinaloa have cancelled deliveries due to the lack of security along the stretch of road from Choix passing through El Potrero and Tubares where there are frequent checkpoints manned by heavily armed thugs who, in the best of cases, only rob them. Faced with this situation, the managers of the mine chose to evacuate all remaining staff by small planes. In La Cieneguita – Lluvia de Oro, Municipality of Urique, Chihuahua there are two mining companies, Minera Rio Tinto, S.A. de C.V. to which I have been serving as General Manager, and Dia Bras, the owner of the Piedras Verdes underground mine.  We have an open pit mine. We were asked to provide a list of all personnel under the pretext of finding enemies hiding among the mine workers, or they threatened to come and kill everyone.


As we refused to do so, two people of Dia Bras were kidnapped, and last Wednesday around six in the evening, Minera Rio Tinto’s installations were attacked. The armed group entered the Administration office looking for a person. They pulled the employee named Felix to one side and kicked him, demanding that he tell them where he was hiding Emisael.  When other employees approached, including the Mine and Maintenance Supervisors, the attackers let loose a burst of machine gun fired at their feet, demanding, “where are you hiding him you @$#%!!! ….. and where is Zendejas, tell him to come!” (Luckily, I was checking the road to Choix to fix landslides). Upon seeing the Back Hoe operator, they beat him until he confessed where the employee was hiding. They pulled him out, tied him up and took him away.

Upon returning, I saw everyone was on alert and they told me all that had happened in the presence of two of the local town’s people who accompanied me.  I requested that the Merchant Diaz intercede with the so-called “Lord” to return Emisael.  Thereupon, I ordered to halt Operations and turn out the lights. My next step, I notified the owner of the mining company and proceeded to request assistance from the State Investigative Police based in Cuauhtémoc and from the Military Base in Parral, Chihuahua. In the meantime, the kidnapped victim was returned on the condition that we put the plant back into operation as if nothing had happened, and that if we were to notify any authority, we would have a massacre on our hands. I called the authorities again, asking them not to come, to which the State Police agreed and the Military said they would give it consideration.

The next morning, two groups of soldiers arrived (about 40 in total) to investigate, and surprised the bad guys, who chose to retire and hide in the nearby area where they could monitor the situation until they saw that the soldiers had left (with me and several of the employees who were directly targeted for calling the Authorities). Upon returning to the town, about an hour later, we learned that the Dia Bras mine guards had been attacked with gunfire, injuring one with the schrapnel that ricocheted and the other guard was tied up. The bad guys continued on to Rio Tinto, where they demanded they be given a white dump truck from the shop for some unknown purpose.


 
The Cuauhtémoc Military Command offered to patrol the area in support of the companies with the goal of putting an end to the danger, which we will see this week.

Three mining companies with a total of over 600 employees representing a significant source of jobs, purchase of services and fuel consumption, plus the benefit to more than sixty Ejido residents who have concessions for hauling and transporting ore, plus the direct and indirect benefits to the local economy is all at risk if this wave of attacks and robbery is not halted. Hopefully the Presidency of the Republic is aware of this and will take action, so that the Miners who generate wealth for the National Economy receive the support they have been requesting for over a year.

I thank the Lord to be here to tell you this. I am waiting for a solution to this situation and ask you to circulate this email, not because it will be unlucky not to do so, but because we must act in accordance to what our national hero Emiliano Zapata said, “I prefer to die standing than to live kneeling “. Let´s unite in favor of mining in Mexico,

Gabriel J. Zendejas Palacios

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