Rubén del Pozo
President of the Zacatecas District
Association of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists and Geologists of Mexico
/
Expert Contributor

Mining: A Mistold Story

By Rubén de J. Del Pozo Mendoza | Tue, 11/10/2020 - 15:30

Mexico is a country whose mining history is not well-known and its industry certainly not fully understood. Mining is seen in terms of dispossession and extractivism, ignoring the benefits it brings from the volume of investments, the jobs generated, the companies created to offer services and the economic benefits they bring to the places where the mines operate. 

Why is this happening? According to studies by human behavior specialists like James A. Russell and Lisa Feldman Barrett, it can be attributed to the Core Affect, which refers to  prototypical emotional episodes. This component is considered a powerful trigger and motivator of our emotionally-based choices, in which the feeling of fear stands out, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. As it turns out, connecting the idea of fear with mining is not random. It has even led to the extreme measure of closing down mining operations, providing disproportionate benefits to a few.

THE BEHAVIOR IN DETAIL 

Fear is generated by ideas that do not necessarily have a logical basis but are accepted by imbuing the unconscious with sufficient emotion as a collective reality. Through various arguments, the fear of mining has been imbued in the minds of some residents of surrounding villages, generating one of the main obstacles to reaching agreements.

Our beliefs are fed by our emotions and lead us to act and even reconfigure our way of thinking in some instances. This is how we learned to take care of fire. This is how at the birth of our children, the feeling of love is perceived and this is how dogmas have been instilled or adopted.

Mining had a badly told story in which thoughts were fed to the bonfire of fear-related emotions with references to legends from hundreds of years ago that no one can verify and, worse, ignoring the current conditions. What is happening now is not exclusive to mining. It is also often used in politics to discredit candidates and encourage voting. So why is mining so important?

Because, for many, being against the industry is like living on the beach and being an enemy of the sea; it is like instilling fear in people to find ways to fight the waves, the wind, the flora and fauna. Beach dwellers will fight against those who decide to fish or make a profit. 

The same is true for mining. Not only does the story of fear affect the rational and consistent use of resources, it also affects the people who work or seek to work in the industry. What’s worse is that ignorance leads to the generation of public policies that impede development due to a lack of consistency, transparency and follow-up. In the face of this false perception that has been generated against the union, a diminished juridical certainty is allowed, which is evident in the demonstrations outside the law and which cause the closing of operations and even scare off investment.

But disinformation has also permeated the social and political spheres, where a semi-saturated horizon of a discourse of fear can be observed, apparently justifying actions against it. In general, this affects everyone, and since it is not a question of justifying a priori, the focus is on how we can generate the development of mining with full congruence that allows us to move forward as a society.

BETTER UNDERSTANDING NEEDED

Mining needs greater recognition and a better understanding of its history, with its moments of successes, improvements and frustrations. In general, it is an industry that develops in spite of all the obstacles and vicissitudes and that are not necessarily fortuitous. 

Currently, the industry is generating communication bridges across all its organizations and companies, individually and in general, to achieve a common front to rewrite history and generate a meeting point that leads us to reach out to the government and strengthen relations with society and together, walk toward a better destiny. Mexico is a mining country that requires a well-told story.

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