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Chihuahua’s great geological potential has recently attracted more attention from investors and companies. However, the state’s mining cluster says there is still much to be exploited in mining activities.
Chihuahua is one of Mexico’s main mining jurisdictions. It is the second most important state in silver production, third in terms of gold and zinc, fourth in copper and fifth in plaster, according to Pablo Mendez, President, Mining Cluster Chihuahua. Around 11.5 percent of the national mining production comes from Chihuahua, with this sector representing 4.5 percent of the State’s GDP which in 2020 accounted for US$2.295 billion. “We work closely with the state government to promote mining activity, as we have the geological potential to go further,” said Mendez. “We call ourselves a friendly state because of our closeness to the mining community.”
Around 15 of the 20 most representative mining municipalities in Chihuahua have mines affiliated to the Chihuahua Mining Cluster. Overall, mining in the state generates 20,500 direct jobs and 102,000 indirect jobs, with 10 percent of these belonging to women. Additionally, mining jobs in Chihuahua are paid 36 percent higher than in other states, according to Mendez.
Despite its current success, the cluster is seeking to boost the state’s capabilities and seize opportunities for greater development, as only 8 percent of Chihuahua’s territory has been granted in concessions, while only 0.12 percent has been properly explored. “We have important geological opportunities to boost our exploration efforts.”
By developing the industry, the cluster is also trying to promote the economic development of the region. “Together with the state government, we want to attract investment and grow local business in the region to foster greater development,” said Mendez. Among its strategies, the cluster has organized visits to the main mines in the state through which companies can understand what these players need in terms of resources and equipment. Their constant efforts have already paid off with a local supplier base of 130 companies and growing.
The social aspect has also been key to the development of mining in Chihuahua. After the termination of the Mining Fund, the cluster has organized donations to mining communities to continue the industry’s contributions to local development. “Last year we donated almost MX$90 million (US$433,2747) in kind to mining comminutes,” said Mendez. Additionally, the cluster works with civil associations and organizations that work with communities in the Sierra to support their development. These collaborations are key to keep promoting mining in the region as bad press has been detrimental to the development of new projects. “The greatest challenge that the mining industry faces is not related with the permissibility of authorities or with the recognition of the rights of ejidal and indigenous communities, but with the current stigmatization of mining activities in our country, which, unfortunately, is generally unfounded,” Mendez told MBN.
The cluster is working with the National Guard, local communities and, most recently, the federal government, to reach remote places in the state and improve the regulatory framework for indigenous consultations. “We want to reopen projects that have faced social issues. In this process, we must support both the companies and the community,” said Mendez.