Last updateFri, 17 Apr 2015 4pm

Canadian mining exec digs himself into a hole with cartels comment

In a TV interview about the robbery of US$8.5 million of gold from a Sinaloa mine, CEO Rob McEwen came out with the remarkable statement that his Canadian company, McEwen Mining, enjoyed a “good relationship” with drug traffickers in the state. 

“If we want to go explore somewhere, you ask them, and they tell you ‘no’, but then they’ll say: ‘come back in a couple of weeks when we’ve finished with what we are doing’” McEwen said, before admitting that the cartels might be harvesting drugs.

His comments created a media storm on both sides of the border, forcing McEwen to later backtrack, explaining in another interview that his company was not in regular contact with the cartels.  He clarified that his remarks referred to the difficulty in getting things done in remote areas of the state without coming into contact with cartel members.

No one has been arrested for the theft but the Sinaloa cartel is a likely suspect.

McEwen said the robbery was carried out by about eight masked, heavily armed people who stopped a number of workers on their way to the mine. Once in the property, “they captured a couple of other security people and put them in the lunch room, and broke into the refinery and drove away with 7,000 ounces of gold concentrate.” 

McEwen described the robbery as “very well planned,” since the thieves were able to gather all of the people with keys together to open the multiple locks and safes. 

“They knew the layout of the operations and they seemed to have a good knowledge of inside our refinery,” McEwen added, implying they had inside help. The company will revise its security strategy.