Mexico will go to local and international courts if there is no agreement with U.S. firm Vulcan Materials over its mining activity in the eastern state of Quintana Roo, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday.
The Mexican government shut down operations of the company earlier this month, citing concerns over the impact of the company’s underwater limestone extraction on the local environment and water table.
The president’s comments were the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between Mexico’s government and the Alabama-based company.
At a regular new conference, Lopez Obrador said the company’s methods to extract limestone amounted to “ecological catastrophe” and said that discussions were being held with the company to find another use for the site.
“What is very clear is that we’re not permitting any more extraction of the material,” the president said, adding that operations would remain suspended until an agreement was reached on the site’s future use.
Lopez Obrador has previously complained about the area’s “destruction” as a result of Vulcan’s mine.
In February, Mexico’s government said it was negotiating the settlement of a $1.1 billion lawsuit by Vulcan over a previous closure of the quarry.
In April, Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez said Vulcan had accepted a proposal to turn the quarry into a tourist attraction.
U.S.-based Vulcan, a leading producer of gravel, sand and crushed stone, operates in Mexico through its Calica unit, which has several concessions in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, where it mines crushed limestone that is later shipped to the United States, where it is used in construction.
In an email on Wednesday, Vulcan spokesperson Janet F. Kavinoky said the company was seeking to restart suspended operations.
“As we have indicated in the past, Vulcan has the necessary permits to operate and intends to vigorously pursue all lawful avenues available to it in order to protect its rights and resume normal operations,” Kavinoky said.
Earlier this month, a group of 10 U.S. Republican senators sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden asking him to take a stronger stance against Lopez Obrador’s “aggression” toward U.S. companies in Mexico, citing the Vulcan case.
(Reporting by Valentine Hilaire and Brendan O’Boyle; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sandra Maler)
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