Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Mexico identifies Sonora copper spill victims

An open cast copper mine similar to the Buenavista del Cobre operation. An open cast copper mine similar to the Buenavista del Cobre operation. Shutterstock
13 Nov
Three months after a spill released copper sulphate into the Sonora River, northwest Mexico, health authorities continue to monitor and treat locals on the river course

The release came from the Buenavista del Cobre mine, which produces 200,000 tons of refined copper per year. Owned by the mining company Grupo México – the world’s third-largest copper producer – Buenavista del Cobre first released copper sulphate in August after heavy rainfall. A further release took place in September. The Sonora, a 250-mile river, flows into the Gulf of California.

The Federal Commission for Sanitary Protection and the National Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the two Mexican health authorities dealing with the spill, have now identified 37 people that have been adversely affected. Investigators handed out health questionnaires to 528 people and identified individuals will receive compensation.

Mobile health units have been travelling across the region to identify people affected by the spill. The units include epidemiologists, psychologists and dermatologists.

Grupo México has pledged $3.5million to municipalities along the river to clean up the spill. Practical support has already included supplying 13 million litres of clean water to local communities, and 58 water tanks to deal with contaminated waters supplies, according to the company.

Copper mining can be a dirty business. Grupo México’s US subsidiary, ASARCO, is responsible for at least 80 contaminated sites across the US, according to National Public Radio. Clean up costs at those sites are estimated at $1.79billion.

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3


Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby




Travel the Unknown


Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • Natural Capital: Putting a price on nature
    Natural capital is a way to quantify the value of the world that nature provides for us – the air, soils, water, even recreational activity. Advocat...
    The human game – tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    The green dragon awakens
    China has achieved remarkable economic success following the principle of developing first and cleaning up later. But now the country with the world's...
    The Money Trail
    Remittance payments are a fundamental, yet often overlooked, part of the global economy. But the impact on nations receiving the money isn’t just a ...


NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.