In Mexico’s Guerrero state, a lot is hidden in the dirt, secrets both gruesome and wonderful. The unmarked graves that dot the rolling hillsides give Guerrero its moniker as Mexico’s murder capital. But there’s gold here, too — lots of gold.
Toronto-based Torex Gold Resources Inc. opened its first mine earlier this year, representing a rare victory in Mexico’s efforts to fuel economic growth in a state ravaged by drug gangs fighting over the opium crops that feed U.S. heroin habits.
Two other Canadian miners, Timmins Gold Corp. and Minaurum Gold Inc., have plans to explore and develop their own sites. In a region with very little going for it, local officials and workers hope the trio of investments could be the start of something bigger.
While Guerrero and neighboring states Oaxaca and Chiapas account for a 10th of Mexico’s population, they’ve received less than 3 percent of its foreign direct investment over the past 16 years. Tales of murder and kidnapping have kept investors away. Cocula, the closest town to Torex’s mines, is better known to the world as the home of the trash dump where the bodies of 43 college students were burned in 2014.
The federal government alleges a local mayor aligned with a drug cartel had them nabbed to avoid the blight of planned protests. On Guerrero’s coast, the resort city of Acapulco has gone from a globe-trotter’s hot spot (Bill and Hillary Clinton honeymooned there) to the state’s bloodiest town in under a generation.
“We’re very involved with our security folks to keep track of the risks,” says Fred Stanford, 57, the president and chief executive officer of Torex. Plus, the mining projects are a “beautiful asset.”
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