MEXICO CITY (AP) — Workers at a Canadian-own silver and gold mine in northern Mexico say they are afraid to leave the mine encampment because of threats by armed groups.
A worker told The Associated Press that supposed members of an organized crime group have set up checkpoints at access points to the mine which has about 400 employees inside. They beat some employees earlier this week, making others afraid to leave the mine camp located in Chihuahua state.
The worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of safety fears, said three Spaniards were among those inside the encampment.
“We are afraid that they are going to enter,” the worker said via WhatsApp, referring to the armed groups.
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The open-pit Mina Dolores belongs to Pan American Silver. The company has not spoken publicly about the situation but the employee said that while mine activities continued Saturday they could be suspended on Sunday, adding that some employees had been evacuated on private planes.
The state government in Chihuahua said security at the mine is guaranteed and the prosecutor’s office said it has not received a complaint from Pan American.
“We have been in contact with the management of the mine; we have insisted to them that it is not necessary to suspend work,” Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral told reporters on Friday. “We have offered to guarantee, through a special and permanent operation, the functioning of the mine.”
State security commissioner Oscar Alberto Aparicio said 50 state police, 50 federal police and military personnel are posted around the mine.
The worker who spoke to the AP said the security situation in the area began to deteriorate about a month ago when rival gangs began fighting for control of the region. Parts of northern Mexico are plagued by powerful drug cartels.