MEXICO CITY Mexican police, soldiers and some miners breached a picket line at a silver mine owned by Canada’s Excellon Resources Inc on Wednesday, but striking miners vowed to continue their near two-month stoppage.
Jorge Mora, head of one of the local unions, said around 100 police and soldiers were at the La Platosa mine in the northern state of Durango, which produced 1.3-million ounces of silver in 2011.
“The company is going to have to leave, because we’re not going anywhere, not at all,” Mora told Reuters.
It was unclear how many miners broke the picket line or when any production could resume.
The strike began on July 8 when the national miners union said Excellon was trying to impose a more company-friendly union on the workers – a claim that Excellon denied. Land holders, angered by perceived broken promises by the Canadian company, joined forces with the miners, blocking access.
Trading in the Toronto-listed company was suspended on Wednesday as regulators awaited comment from the company on the latest developments. Excellon shares closed at 34.5 Canadian cents on Tuesday, down 50% since the strike began.
Excellon says the strike at the mine is illegal and has filed criminal charges against the strikers.
The company had used stockpiled material from its Miguel Auza mill in Zacatecas state to cover the lost production, but was forced to declare force majeure earlier this month when stocks ran dry.
“The company has the full support of the state and federal governments and is working closely with them to end this action as soon as possible so that the workers can return to the mine and resume their livelihoods,” Excellon said in a statement.
Although the company had expected the strike to end quickly, union representatives and local land holders said they were prepared to dig their heels in.
Seven days output were lost in 2011 at the La Platosa mine as miners and land holders squared off with Excellon. A review by Canada’s mining watchdog followed.
The national miners union has a long history of clashing with foreign mining companies. The group’s leader, Napoleon Gomez, is living in Canada and faces a corruption charge back home in Mexico, which he disputes.
Gomez led a three-year strike at Mexico’s largest copper mine, run by Grupo Mexico, until a court order – and police support – handed back control of the mine to the company in 2010.