STORY INLINE POST
Q: What benefits does mining generate in Mexico?
A: Mining is an important industry for the country, representing around 3.2 percent of GDP. Moreover, in 2019, the Mexican mining industry generated 379,000 direct jobs, benefiting miners and contributing to their family's earnings. The number of employees when including indirect jobs created by the industry is around 2 million. However, due to several crises, including COVID-19, the industry is bound to face challenging times.
Q: How is the government promoting sustainability practices in the reactivation of the sector?
A: To boost ESG practices, collaboration between society, government and the mining industry is necessary. The Ministry of Economy has invited small, medium and large companies, as well as the corresponding associations, to find common solutions within a legal framework to reactivate initiatives that will benefit Mexico's economic development.
Q: What are you doing to boost mining activities and increase certainty in the sector, especially after the various disputes between the government and Canadian mining companies?
A: Mining has been labeled an essential industry by this administration. Thus, our approach toward mining conflicts has been one of balancing private investor interests with those of the local communities and corresponding labor rights. For instance, in April this year, we reached an agreement between a union and the owners of the La Negra mine in the state of Queretaro. The workers had maintained a strike for several months. Mexico's government established negotiations to address their demands.
As Minister of the Economy for Mexico, I acknowledge the importance of the industry. Mexico is among the Top 10 producers of 17 essential minerals. We are the leading silver producer worldwide, and we are No. 2 in fluorite extraction, and No. 8 in copper exploitation. Our plan is to expand Mexico’s mining industry to include minerals that are useful for new technologies. Specifically, we regard lithium and its importance in battery production as an attractive segment.
Q: Despite the challenges, where have you identified the biggest opportunities in the mining sector?
A: With the advent of Al, robotics, the circular economy and the massive use of electricity in several sectors of the economy, the biggest opportunities for the mining sector reside in providing the raw minerals and metals that will be required for use in solar panels, robots — in combination with engineering plastics — windmills and all those products we use on a daily basis like cellphones. These are all dependent on the mining sector.
Q: What developments would you like to see in the Mexican mining sector and how do you plan to achieve them?
A: First of all, on the governmental side, we are working to provide a modern regulatory system that will reduce substantially the so-called bureaucracy. We also need a better relationship with the private mining sector, where both sides trust each other.