The Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) criticized President López Obrador’s government for approving the Mining Law’s reform, since it sticks to the mining market’s status quo and continues to promote an unfair mineral extraction model.
REMA highlighted that the reform of the Mining Law continues to promote the same mining model that was created in 1992, one that dispossesses communities, destroys nature and harms the health of those nearby. “We recognize the gravely serious social and environmental damage that mineral exploitation has caused in the world. For this reason, REMA calls on society to debate beyond the dichotomous and simplistic narratives regarding the public and the private imposed by political parties, companies and some media,” said the organization in a press release.
The organization criticized that Mexican legislator only focused on ensuring the right to produce lithium and other strategic minerals, instead of questioning current mining regulations with the goal to improve them. In addition, REMA shared its concern for the future of the 82 communities that live around the lithium deposits, which are currently being explored by the Mexican Geological Survey (SGM). Many of these communities experience problems with water scarcity.
“What will happen to the communities where deposits of lithium are identified and exploited? Surely, the government will deploy all its force to move forward with these projects, regardless of what the local communities think, by streamlining or bypassing the necessary permits. Moreover, there is also a serious risk that expropriation processes are carried out under the notion of public utility, or under the banner that it is for the benefit of the Mexican people and national energy sovereignty,” the network said.
For their part, mining experts have argued that the industry has been an important engine for development and wealth generalization in marginalized communities. However, these efforts will be affected by the Mining Law’s reform, since it will cause Mexico to lose around US$24.2 billion in investments in 2022. The National Confederation of Industrial Chambers (CONCAMIN) has highlighted that if the reform is changed for one that allows private participation, 350,000 jobs would be added to the more than 3 million that already exist in mining, benefiting more Mexican families.
On April 14, the initiative to modify articles 1, 5, 9 and 10 of the Mining Law was approved. The new reform seeks to “guarantee the self-determination of the nation, as well as the energy sovereignty of the people over lithium and other minerals that are strategic and necessary for the energy transition. In addition, to create a decentralized public body that oversees the exploration, production and use of the mineral.”