Nuestro Cerro [Our Hill] explores the tension between resource extraction and connection to place through the story of Minera San Xavier in Cerro de San Pedro, Mexico. Cerro de San Pedro is one of the oldest mining communities in Mexico, as well as home to one of the first Canadian mines to open after NAFTA was signed. Contrary to the conventional tunnel mines of the town’s past, Minera San Xavier is an open-pit mine. Over the course of 10 years it has blasted its way down the face of the symbolic cerro [hill], which stood overlooking the town for centuries. As the mine enters its closure phase, it leaves the community divided and with questions of what’s to come.
Narratives over mining conflicts are often presented as black and white and in this limited context, miss the more nuanced versions of reality. This photo essay is part of my masters thesis which includes extensive interviews from people I built relationships with in Cerro de San Pedro — community members who were torn between having the employment that would allow them to remain in the place they loved, but in doing so, destroy the hill that defined their community.
My goal for this project was to create visual space for the experiences of the community members. The project was done iteratively; working between my own visual documentation while incorporating what people were saying about their relationship to the mine, their connection to place, and the socio-economic challenges they face. The interviews in turn shaped my construction of the visual narrative. My hope is that the viewer is left with a deeper sense of what has passed for people living through the end of the mining era in Cerro de San Pedro.