How will the Puerto Rico Mine impact the Big Bend National Park Region?

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The entrance to Boquillas Canyon in Big Bend National Park is less than a mile from the village of Boquillas, Coahuila, Mexico.  

by Rick LoBello

This week we learned that Discovery Metals Corporation is in the final stages of the land re-designation process at its Puerto Rico Mine Project 5 miles southeast of Boquillas, Mexico across from Big Bend National Park.   The area is connected to the Maderas del Carmen Protected Area in Coahuila State, Mexico.  According to a GlobeNewsWire news release dated April 3, 2019 “the re-designation is now in the final stages, awaiting the preparation of the Land Management Plan by CONANP and subsequent submission and approval.  Discovery has also” been granted membership to the Board of the Maderas del Carmen Reserve and will act as lead of the newly-created mining sub-committee.” 

A hundred years ago as many as 2,000 people lived in Boquillas where they worked at the Puerto Rico extracting lead, silver and fluorite ore.   The Mexican-owned Puerto Rico Mining Company was operating in the Sierra del Carmen.  When the Boquillas smelter closed  ore was shipped to Marathon and carried by railroad to the ASARCO smelter in El Paso, the only such facility in West Texas.   The ASARCO smelter in El Paso is now closed.

How will the opening of the mine impact the region?  Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas or CONANP) works to conserve the natural patrimony of the country.  If ever there was a time for increased collaboration and the designation of an International Park designation in the Big Bend Rio Bravo Region that time is now.  An international designation would help both countries better address key issues such as water and air quality, control of invasive species, wildlife and habitat protection and management of wildland fire.  The area would become a permanent monument and symbol of peace between the U.S. and Mexico, one that will celebrate the friendship between the two countries and be a meeting ground where the people of both countries and citizens from all parts of the world could come together to learn about each other’s culture while coming to better understand the natural world that they all share.

 

 

 

 

 

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Big Bend National Park partners in conservation graphic at the Boquillas International Crossing.

 

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