Morocco’s Askaoun Villagers In Heated Debate Over Mine Pollution 

Zgounder Mine, Asakaoun Village Anti Atlas

Locals from Askaoun, a small village located in Morocco’s Anti Atlas mountain region are in a heated debate with the owners of a local mine. Maya Gold and Silver, a Canadian company who own Zgounder mine, are defending their right claiming the land is collective including the water source, which was diverted from the Ouarzazate region.  Zgounder is Morocco’s second most important silver mine after Imiter and shares several of its geological, structural and age characteristics. The mine is approximately 260 kilometers east of the major port city of Agadir located in the Anti Atlas Mountain region.

Askaoun Villagers claim that the Zgounder mine has caused water shortage, excessive noise pollution, and chemical waste residue that affects their livelihood.

Askaoun Villagers claim that the Zgounder mine has caused noise pollution along with irrigation and water issues that affect their livelihood. Since the 1980s, Zgounder says “local authorities diverted water from the Atlas Mountains near Ouarzazate to use in their silver extraction process.” Furthermore, Zgounder has expressed over the past five years, their presence has helped create job opportunities for Askaoun villagers.

The locals disagree and claim operation is causing more problems than solutions. A water shortage, excessive noise pollution, and chemical waste residue are among the grievances the villagers are filing.

At present, the situation is being investigated. Since the Askaoun villagers do not officially own the land yet have lived there for decades, the answer is unclear. If the mine continues to operate in Asakaoun, the villagers request that Maya Gold & Silver assist with the ending the water shortage and helping to develop the town.

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