AMLO Proposes Tourism Project to Vulcan Materials
President López Obrador has proposed US company Vulcan Materials to withdraw a lawsuit against the Mexican government in exchange for resources to convert its limestone mine into a tourism project. The company filed the lawsuit after it was no longer allowed to continue its mining operations. López Obrador said that if an agreement is not reached in the short term, the government will ask the UN for help.
The president instructed Esteban Moctezuma, Mexico's Ambassador to the US, to speak with Vulcan Materials so that it accepts the termination of all mining activities at its Sac-Tun mine in Quintana Roo to instead turn it into a tourist attraction. The government said that the mine’s activities must be suspended as they are damaging the region's ecosystem. López Obrador stressed that the concession is not being revoked. However, it must be used for other purposes.
The president emphasized that his government will not issue permits that harm the Mexican population and its resources. Therefore, the Mexican government will seek the support of influential international institutions such as the UN if the company stands by its lawsuit: "Caring for the environment comes before economic gains,” he said.
“If they say no and want to continue exploiting without authorization or continue suing the country for taking care of its environment, we are going to take our case to the UN. This is not a threat or a warning, we are simply stating that impunity is no longer allowed. I am sure that the [company’s] main shareholders are not aware that we are talking about the destruction of 500ha. This is not going to happen during our government,” said López Obrador.
Adán Augusto López, Minister of the Interior, said that the company’s permits must be regulated so that they comply with the new guidelines and not with those of previous governments. The minister emphasized that the company currently has three properties of which two are in operation. One of them has an unlimited concession and the other an expired permit. Meanwhile, the third property’s operating permit is about to expire. López said that the lack of regulation in concessions is one of the main problems that previous governments left to be solved, an issue that must be stopped now.
In 2019, Vulcan Materials requested arbitration against Mexico under USMCA regulations due to the revocation of its port concessions. The company explained that this revocation blocked its operations and generated significant monetary losses, for which it has requested compensation of US$1.1 billion. According to the company, the Mexican government's actions were unilateral and violated existing agreements.
Meanwhile, the Mexican government argues that the existing permits violate current laws and will therefore not approve them. López Obrador emphasized that the government is not opposed to the company but against its environmental impact, which is why he has offered them a choice through which the ecosystem can be protected and restored.