Federico Kunz Bolaños
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Federico Kunz Bolaños & Baltazar Solano Rico

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 12:39

There is not a specific formula for creating successful social licenses with local communities, though there are some rules that need to be followed. Firstly the company needs to identify the leaders of the communities - not just the formal leaders but the de facto leaders. This is a very important step. Sometimes companies try to talk to the mayor of the municipality or to the official head of the ejido, but it does not work. You need to look for the real leaders, and the people who influence the committee. Secondly the company’s negotiating abilities are very important, and the company needs to choose negotiators that will be accepted by the communities. You cannot send in people who only speak English to deal with the ejido leaders. It is preferable that companies hire male negotiators because ejido leaders still have an old-fashioned mentality and prefer dealing with men to women. Even the city-type lawyers may not be the best people to negotiate with the communities. In one of the mining companies I worked for we used to have a lawyer and an engineer as negotiators; the lawyer was the son of an ejidatario, so he bonded with the community right away. Another rule is to always tell the truth when negotiating: do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. Another piece of advice I can give is to be aware that the time issue in rural areas is very important: people there do not like to be pushed and pressured into making decisions.

There has been support from mining companies to improve Mexico’s system for administering mining concessions for many years, though it has not yet happened. There are some small, irregular concessions that date back a long time and must be treated separately, in terms of acquiring the rights to them, for example. Putting together information on the location of deposits and making it available to the public has been a slow process. Some information is available on the General Coordination of Mining website, but while it is sometimes updated most of the time you cannot get hold of the maps you need. The General Directorate for Mining will provide you with a report that tells you the status of the concession in each of its seven or eight different departments, such as whether all the paperwork has been submitted and whether it is titled. It is a good report but it can take two or three months to produce. .