Iguala Mining Hub Shaping into RealityWed, 10/16/2019 - 16:30
Despite a 410-year mining history starting when Hernán Cortés declared Taxco as the first Real de Minas of the New Spain, Guerrero state has not achieved the traction that other mining regions like Sonora and Zacatecas have enjoyed, says Alfredo Phillips, President of the Guerrero Mining Cluster. The cluster hopes to change that by promoting the creation of a mining hub in the Iguala municipality. “The main purpose of the Iguala hub is to create the conditions for economic growth in the region,” Phillips says.
The idea of a hub has been on the table for a long time but the state’s economic development due to the industry’s progress means the time is ripe to take the next step, Phillips adds. “Guerrero hosts several strong mining projects and we have world-class deposits. I perceive the industry moving toward a virtuous cycle,” he says. “The mining value chain is echoing everywhere in our state: creating jobs, resource flows, development opportunities and scholarships, among others.”
When realized, the hub is expected to heighten the industry’s visibility and provide a positive impact on education, health and poverty, three hurdles the state needs to tackle. “The mining industry can create the economic situation, wealth and context to affect these issues for the better,” Phillips says. While noting that companies do not have a direct responsibility to solve these problems, Phillips is convinced they have a great role to play in influencing the value chain to incorporate a higher level of local content and enhance local economies.
The hub would also focus on providing a soft landing for foreign companies investing in Mexico as they often lack the deep understanding of regional dynamics required to enter a virtuous cycle. The cluster also wants the hub to become a platform for new technologies in the industry. “The hub expects to include several universities; we want to provide training, education and implement research centers,” Phillips says. “A greater number of services will be offered in the same place, gradually making the hub a real one-stop shop for the industry with the right security environment for all members and visitors.”
To realize this ambitious project, the cluster is working on a variety of levels to achieve the necessary cooperation, Phillips says. “We are trying to create the blueprint for this hub to happen while getting federal, state and local governments to work together,” he explains. “The government, particularly Undersecretary of Mining Francisco Quiroga, is very interested in this project because it promotes regional development.” Phillips expects the AMLO administration to introduce an enhanced social approach to mining. “Guerrero’s local policies in particular require a visible social component. I think this is a core focus of the new administration and it is aligned with what we were already doing in Guerrero.”
The cluster is finalizing the details of the land where the hub will be located and attracting investors to the project. “If we can kick off the hub with a few investments, it will gather steam.” Phillips expects the hub to get off the ground by 2020. Companies already committed to the project include Torex Gold and Energéticos Nieto.
One incentive for mining companies to establish at the hub instead of, for example, having maintenance facilities at mine sites is that logistics are always better managed from a centralized position, Phillips argues. “Iguala makes sense for companies that want to work at Guerrero mines such as Media Luna, Los Filos or Campo Morado,” he says, adding that the hub is in some ways a nod to the past rather than a completely new idea. “Iguala has always been the commercial center of the northern part of Guerrero, but the Sol Highway displaced the commercial route from the municipality. This hub is really about recovering what Iguala once was,” Phillips says.