Spanish construction company Hansa Urbana said the Cabo Cortes tourism complex, which is being developed in Mexico's Baja California Sur state, would not affect Cabo Pulmo, the only coral reef in the Gulf of California.

Reports about damage to the reef released by environmental groups are part of a "disinformation" campaign, the company said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Environmental groups began alleging in mid-2010 that Hansa's project, which calls for a total investment of some $2 billion, would affect the 20,000-year-old reef, one of the oldest in Mexico's Pacific region and located just 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from the tourism complex.

Cabo Pulmo is home to 226 of the 875 species of fish that live in northwest Mexico's Gulf of California, government reports say.

The Mexican government declared Cabo Pulmo a protected area in 1995 and it is now a national park sprawling over 7,111 hectares (17,558 acres), with about 99 percent of the park made up of protected marine areas.

Greenpeace, Wildcoast/Costa Salvaje, Niparaja, Pro Natura Noroeste, Comunidad y Diversidad, Amigos de Cabo Pulmo and other environmental groups are "trying to disinform and confuse public opinion," Cabo Cortes director Jesus Guilabert said.

The resort, which is being developed by Hansa Urbana unit Hansa Baja Investments, covers 3,800 hectares (9,382 acres), of which 2,500 hectares (6,172 acres) will be protected natural areas and 1,300 hectares (3,210 acres) will be developed, Guilabert said.

The project will be developed in five phases, with final build-out expected in 30 or 40 years, Guilabert said.

Cabo Cortes "is not going to appear from one day to the next," Guilabert said, adding that the complex would "grow in an orderly manner."

Development plans call for building about 8,000 condominium units, 15 hotels, a marina with 490 slips and two 18-hole golf courses, Guilabert said.

The project will create about 19,000 jobs, including 8,000 direct jobs and 11,000 indirect positions, the executive said.

Cabo Cortes is not going to be "a new Cancun," Guilabert said, referring to Mexico's premier Caribbean resort city.

The project's first phase, which will be built over 10 years, will cover 465 hectares (1,148 acres) and include seven hotels, 2,500 residential units, the marina and a golf course, the Spanish company said.

The Environment Secretariat approved Cabo Cortes's environmental impact statement in September 2008.

The project was later temporarily halted when a resident filed a request for a review of the project.

Environmental officials gave the go-ahead to the project for the second time in March, but they set certain conditions.

The environmental groups have not even read the 1,500-page environmental impact statement and are leveling unfounded allegations, Hansa Urbana says.

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