Government Wants a Bigger Role in National Lithium ProductionBy Paloma Duran | Thu, 03/25/2021 - 17:55
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has announced his intentions to have a greater stake in lithium production in Mexico, as he is confident that the government can boost its potential better than mining companies can. Furthermore, Mexico's major mining companies have announced their concerns regarding the new electricity law and their plans to protect themselves from it.
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López Obrador announced that his government plans to have a greater stake in lithium production, as other companies are not using mining concessions correctly. Previously, López Obrador’s government said it was studying a proposal to nationalize lithium production due to its great market opportunities. According to Mining.com, the demand of lithium has increased due to its use in batteries for a wide variety of products, such as electric cars.
Major mining companies in Mexico have warned about the negative impact that López Obrador’s electricity bill could have on the sector, especially on their environmental commitments. Fresnillo announced that it will take legal action to defend its right to demand cleaner and cheaper electricity, which is critical to achieving its goal of producing 75 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Newmont has also shared its concerns, as the new law would hamper the company's decarbonization goals. Tom Palmer, CEO of Newmont, announced the company's plans to use its political influence to promote renewables.
Americas Gold and Silver Corporation (Americas) faces an illegal blockade at its San Rafael mine by its union, under the argument that the company must improve working conditions. However, Americas has explained that these are false accusations and that it is being extorted.
Moreover, Americas responded to López Obrador's comment that if the company did not respect the law, its concessions could be revoked, by saying there is no basis for diminishing its property rights. In addition, Americas highlighted it has had several meetings with federal authorities, where a framework has been established to restart activities. Americas added that it will continue to work with the Canadian government and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide solutions and resolve the problem to avoid an arbitration process between Canada and Mexico.
The company said it has communicated with Mexican officials in an effort to resolve the dispute at its San Rafael mine. President and CEO, Darren Blasutti, has talked with Minister of the Interior Olga Sánchez, Minister of Economy Tatiana Clouthier, Minister of Labor Luisa Maria Alcalde and Canadian Ambassador to Mexico Graeme Clark, to agree on strategies and possible solutions concerning the union problem, reported Reuters. Americas has proposed to Mexican authorities that negotiations be held between the interested parties to effectively reopen the mine. The company also announced that it is optimistic about progress and said it plans to continue investing in the country.
Zacatecas Silver Corp. (Zacatecas Silver) announced that it has intensified its exploration plans to prepare a resource estimate at its Panuco silver deposit in Zacatecas. Bryan Slusarchuk, CEO of Zacatecas Silver, said there is huge potential in this silver project as the Panuco deposit has a "historical inferred mineral resource of 19,472,901oz." Slusarchuk explained that the company was attracted to silver due to electrification and green energy, which are expected to increase the demand and price of silver.
Senate members of the Special Commission for Monitoring the Implementation of USMCA held a meeting with representatives of the mining industry to review the opportunities and challenges that the sector will have with the trade agreement. Claudia Ruiz Massieu, President of the Special Commission, proposed to establish a permanent dialog with the mining sector to have an adequate implementation of USMCA, besides using it as an economic strategy. CAMIMEX President Fernando Alanís highlighted that USMCA includes the resolution of labor and environmental disputes, for which he asked not to use the agreement to generate artificial conflicts.