Christopher Avila Mier,
President of the Legislative Liaison
CAMIMEX
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2022 A Crucial Year for Industry-Government Liaisons

Tue, 02/08/2022 - 13:12

Q: What are some of CAMIMEX’s most important goals for 2022?

A: We want to be involved in all legislative initiatives that could have an impact on Mexico’s legal framework for mining so that the sector’s voice can be heard during these proceedings. These include laws that could indirectly impact mining activities, such as those related to the environment, labor and taxes, as well as those presented within  federal legislation. At first, much of our attention will be directed toward the president’s efforts to alter the constitutional status of certain minerals, such as lithium.

Our plans include lobbying the Senate’s mining commission, which analyzes initiatives that could prohibit all mining activities in protected natural areas and change the legal framework surrounding public consultation of indigenous communities prior to extraction activities to give certainty to projects and communities. In addition, there are initiatives that could alter the tax regime (green taxes) that impact the mining industry, mainly at the local level. We also want to convince legislators who might be working on the 2023 budget to make sure resources accumulated under the Mining Fund are allocated to the municipalities where the mining industry works, instead of being redirected elsewhere.

Q: How has the relationship between the mining sector and the government evolved in the last few years?

A: We were lucky when the present administration began as there was still an Undersecretariat of Mining that managed to get a great deal of work done in building relationships between the government and the industry. A great deal of progress was made regarding institutional synergies and educating the public sector on the structure of the industry and its main units. Cooperation treaties and agreements were signed at that time, such as that signed with the Federal Protection Service, which led to the creation of the misnamed “mining police,” which in reality is a service available to all industries called the “federal public service.” Important liaisons were also built with SAT and SEMARNAT, meaning a great deal of crucial dialogue took place. Since the Undersecretariat was eliminated in 2020, many of these responsibilities have been led by Efraín Alva Niño, Director of the Extractive Industries Unit created in 2021 at the Ministry of Economy (SE). Our relationship with Efraín is quite healthy and we are very proud and satisfied with the work he has accomplished together with Minister of Economy Tatiana Clouthier.

We have also had to stay abreast of the many changes that have taken place at SEMARNAT. For instance, we need to strengthen our relationships with every director of this institution so they can make informed choices that take into account the many ways in which the mining industry contributes to Mexico’s environmental welfare.

In general, our relationship with the government is progressing. Our main goal at CAMIMEX is to consolidate this relationship. We want to make clear that the basis of this relationship is a mutual understanding that the well-being of the industry translates into the well-being of the country.    

Q: What role could CAMIMEX play in the creation of a new federal institution that would govern and regulate certain aspects of the mining industry?

A: CAMIMEX’s official position is that we are opposed to the nationalization of any mineral. We believe there is a significant historical precedent that supports our views here. A good example of this is uranium, another mineral that was once nationalized, with a parastatal company called URAMEX set up to control its extraction. As a result, uranium was never produced. The federal budget is insufficient to support the necessary exploration and project development necessary to produce lithium successfully. As a consequence, social programs would have to be defunded to achieve the necessary levels of financial support for such an initiative to even begin. This would run contrary to the policies of the current government. The Senate’s mining commission is the vehicle through which we will promote our stance once the law is deliberated. The law’s current text suggests the need to nationalize any mineral that plays a significant role in the country’s energy transition. We want to eliminate this language from the law because it creates a completely unworkable condition. Many minerals, not just lithium, play an important role in Mexico’s electric infrastructure. The idea that this would make them “open” for nationalization could have dire consequences for all of Mexico’s industries, including agriculture, the food service industry, construction and the health sector

State legislation and mining commissions will play an important role in opposing this initiative. For instance, there are approximately 10 mining commissions in state legislatures, and since this law implies constitutional changes, the states would have to approve, which means they would also have to present the industry’s position in this matter as clearly as possible.   

CAMIMEX (Cámara Minera de México, or Mexican Mining Chamber) groups, coordinates, represents and defends the interests of Mexico’s mining industry before the different levels of government and organizations. It also provides information, training, management and support services to promote the integral development of the industry.