A site new to me, Mining Companies Exploration and Mining Investment News carries a fine article that highlights the dilemma of maintaining old mines as tourist attractions versus mining the resources left behind by the old miners. The article is Mining Companies Race to Reopen Old Mexican Mines.
In relatively unemotional prose, we are told of the conflict between those who live and dream of the past and those who look forward to development: The conflict, as always, is rooted in the quick, here and now, new job, and the dream of a sleepy town grown rich off unidentified tourists. But, as they note:
In the race between mining — which offers quick investments and lots of blue-collar jobs — and the slow, arduous task of luring tourism, mining often wins.
Seems that Mexico is awash in “mines that were shuttered in the 1920s and 1930s because of labor unrest, violence, anti-foreigner sentiment and low metal prices..”
The romantic comes face to face with the realist, as in one affected town:
Bernardino Solis Ojeda, a stooped, 73-year-old municipal employee in San Pedro, calls the company “a treasure for us poor people” because it has renewed jobs lost when the old mine closed amid labor unrest in the 1940s.
In the intervening decades, San Pedro residents tried to eke out a living with small, wildcat mines. Others just left.
While the mining company has restored two local churches and promises not to affect structures listed on the historical register, opponents say it has demolished an 18th century home, outbuildings and old mine works.
Bulldozers also frequently encounter old mine tunnels and galleries, which are destroyed. An old train right of way used by mountain-bikers has already been swallowed up, as have countless foot paths through the cactus-covered hills.
“We used to get up in the morning and look out at our church, our hills,” Mendoza said. “Now they’re destroying the landscape.”
What price a full belly in the evening versus a view of old mine workings in the morning?