Specialists argue President López Obrador delivered erroneous information (“other data”)during the North American Summit (NALS) regarding the Mexican mining sector and its number of concessions to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
López Obrador said that during the NALS meeting last week, he told Trudeau that 60 percent of the country’s territory is being used for mining , and that past governments delivered too many concessions, without giving much importance on how they would be used.
“I told him what the mining companies did, especially during the neoliberal period. I explained to him that past governments authorized120 million hectares. I told him our country has 200 million hectares and even so, past administrations gave concessions equivalent to 60 percent of the national territory. Furthermore, very few miners used these concessions to extract ore,” said López Obrador.
However, specialists say the information provided by the president is not true and sends the wrong message to the industry and potential investors. According to CAMIMEX, in Mexico there are 24,066 concession titles representing 16.83 million hectares, equivalent to 8.59 percent of the national territory. In addition, production stage mines occupy less than 0.10 percent of the country's territory.
Alberto Vásquez, a lawyer specializing in mining at the VGH firm, explained that disclosing “other data” in international forums shows the little interest the government has in getting to know the industry in depth and how mining companies in Mexico work. "This message is aimed not only at Trudeau but also to investors, CEOs and Canadian businessmen, and the message itself confirms the difficulties in obtaining licenses and mining permits in the country," said Vásquez.
Former president of CAMIMEX, Fernando Alanis has said there is a profound lack of knowledge from the government about the mining industry, since granting a concession is not giving resources to companies but the possibility of exploring the land. In addition, Patricia Vivar, a lawyer specializing in mining at VHG, said there is a misconception regarding foreign companies´ exploitation of the country's resources. The truth is that most concessions have been granted to Mexican mining companies, such as Peñoles and Grupo México.
López Obrador has repeatedly said no new concessions will be granted, arguing that previous governments easily authorized too many concessions. Representatives of the mining industry have sought to work with the federal government to reactivate the granting of mining concessions. However, the government has held its ground, as it believes that proving proof that a project is environmentally and socially responsible could pave the way for better development.