Chihuahua is a state with a 450-year mining history and is traditionally considered to be a true mining entity. Its territory holds important reserves of gold, silver, lead, copper and zinc, according to mining chamber CAMIMEX. Chihuahua’s mining industry amounts for 12.7 percent of the national metals-focused mining industry. Mining activity furthermore represents 4 percent of the state’s GDP. Within this environment, the Chihuahua Mining Cluster works to spread the benefits of the industry.
Silver is the main mineral produced in Chihuahua, with 55,371 tons produced in 2019, followed by zinc with 7,201 tons, lead with 2,332 tons and copper with 690 tons. During 2020, selling these minerals raised US$2.19 billion. Gerardo Durán, Director General, Chihuahua Mining Cluster explained that 94 percent of the mining activity is concentrated in the central and southern region of the state, concentrated in 20 municipalities. From these 20 districts, 15 are affiliated with the Cluster, and five of them represent 9.45 percent of nation’s metals production. Durán mentioned that 312,000 inhabitants are directly or indirectly benefitted by mining activities, as the sector has created 20,493 direct jobs.
“The Cluster was born in 2013 as the main association helping and connecting the companies of the sector and today features 130 suppliers,” said Durán. Furthermore, the Cluster is present at 13 mining units and four mining projects. It formed alliances with six educational institutions and two investigation centers, bringing a wealth of technological knowledge to the state. The organization furthermore seeks to generate networking prospects to establish new business opportunities.
Just like Sonora, much of Chihuahua’s territory remains unexplored. The total surface of the state is 27,745,500ha, of which 2,053,876ha are concessions for the mining sector, or 8.33 percent. Meanwhile, 0.12 percent of this environment has been used for production.
Mining has contributed to the environmental efforts of the state, for example by reforestation of 543ha and 196,000 trees in 2020. Ninety percent of the companies working in Chihuahua hold credentials for contributing to a cleaner industry. Durán stated mining activities have had “a significantly positive impact wherever they have been carried out.”
Gustavo Ramonet Ontiveros, Director Mining, the Ministry of Innovation and Economic Development of Chihuahua said that mining companies are considered to be a key ally of the most marginalized communities in the state. Remote, marginalized areas can become nests for illicit economic activity, so these communities risk becoming the focus of criminal activity, mainly from drug cartels. Because the inhabitants of these communities want nothing more than look after their own well-being, this makes them vulnerable. The stable nature of mining jobs can keep such problem at bay.