Flor de María Harp
Director General
Mexican Geological Survey
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Expert Contributor

Mexican Geological Survey: Its Role in Mexico’s Mining Sector

By Flor de María Harp | Fri, 06/19/2020 - 09:34

The Mexican Geological Survey (SGM) is a little-known federal government agency. Its mission is to generate and spread geological knowledge about Mexico to promote investment, employment and social well-being through the sustainable use of the nations’ mineral resources. SGM also provides technical assistance for planning land use, preventing disasters related to geological phenomena and carrying out geohydrological studies. The SGM is in charge of carrying out activities that promote Mexico’s development, resulting in social, technical, economic and scientific benefits.

Modern societies around the world have highlighted the importance of making an inventory of their non-renewable natural resources, including metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits and hydrocarbons. To undertake such an inventory, a thorough knowledge of each country’s geological structure, potential and diversity, is essential. To this end, it is crucial to have a specialized agency in charge of studying the history and evolution of the Earth's crust. Human beings need to understand the surface on which they live.

The SGM contributes to the exploration of new mineral deposits and the reactivation of existing ones. It does so through precise and state-of-the-art techniques that it deploys on the national territory, resulting in heightened investment. Thus, the SGM is an example of a remarkably reliable, expedient and accurate option for galvanizing social, industrial and economic progress.

Mexico’s geological structure has facilitated the discovery of a vast wealth of metallic minerals deposits, such as gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, iron and molybdenum. The country is also endowed with an abundance of non-metallic minerals such as fluorite, manganese, coal, barite, tungsten, antimony and zeolite. Furthermore, Mexico possesses all useful construction materials, including clays, limestone and stone aggregates such as tezontle, tuff, gypsum and volcanic glass.

In the current health crisis, it is important to take into account that minerals are crucial for producing medicines, ventilators, ambulances, stretchers, oxygen tanks, specialized protective clothing and other indispensable supplies. Not only patients in hospitals are dependent on the minerals extracted from the ground; in our daily lives there is an endless list of equipment and objects that require minerals to make them available.  

In all countries, including Mexico, mining activities are being chronically discredited. The main reason for this tends to be that the public is unaware of the way modern mining operates. In fact, there is a profusion of examples of mining projects that take pains to respect the environment and the culture and traditions of the surrounding communities.

Countering adverse opinions is not easy. However, it is the obligation of all those involved in the task of providing mineral raw materials to a wide variety of industries to respect the social and natural environments where they operate; of course, they must also comply with the environmental and social regulations in each of the countries where they work. That is a basic foundation for promoting a better opinion of the sector.

As raw materials, minerals are the first link in the supply chain of many industries. They play a part in almost all aspects of daily life.  From time immemorial, machines, objects, medicines and equipment containing minerals have driven the evolution of humanity. Most human activity is possible and derives from the consumption of mineral raw materials. These are used in the electronic, pharmaceutical, construction, glass and packaging industries; paints, detergents, lighting, floors, tiles, tools, appliances, cellphones and computers are mineral-intensive; air, water and land vehicles, power generation, food and agriculture would not be feasible without metallic and non-metallic minerals. 

The extraction and processing of minerals must be carried out with due respect for adjacent communities, societies and natural environments. Many companies already see to the remediation and control of any damage that they may inflict. Social and environmental government authorities must guarantee that investments in the mining sector effectively comply with the highest standards. That will result in society gaining awareness about the fact that mineral resources generate economic and social benefits for all, when the principles of sustainability, equilibrium, inclusion and social justice are applied.

Every country is concerned with obtaining sustainable benefits from its natural resources. That is an essential factor for the development and progress of a nation. Since 1949, the SGM has the task of providing the most complete, certain and reliable information on geology and mineral deposits and raw materials for furthering the mining activities that drive Mexico’s development.

Photo by:   Flor de María Harp