Ministry of Economy Will Cancel Almaden Minerals’ Titles
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Ministry of Economy Will Cancel Almaden Minerals’ Titles

Photo by:   Matthew de Livera
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Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 02/22/2023 - 17:34

The Canada-based precious metals company Almaden Minerals announced the Mexican government is looking to cancel two mineral titles for the Ixtaca project, the company’s flagship project in Puebla that has been affected by community conflicts. Nevertheless, Almaden managed to sign several agreements with nearby ejidos, too.

Almaden Minerals reported that the Ministry of Economy (SE) filed a case at the Second District Court of Puebla to deny two mineral title applications made by the company in 2002 and 2008, which led to mineral titles being granted in 2003 and 2009, respectively. The mineral titles sustain the Ixtaca project, a deposit discovered in 2010. The titles, however, were reduced to their application status due to the Supreme Court’s decision in early 2022.  

According to the company, the ministry’s actions are against the Mining Law, the SCJN’s decision and international law. Almaden is therefore planning to challenge the decision at the District Court. 

According to the company, the origin of the problem goes back to when a third party used the mineral claims that cover the Ixtaca project to sue the Mexican government on the basis that the Mining Law was unconstitutional. However, in February 2022, SCJN ruled against this notion but admitted that SE should have conducted an Indigenous consultation process before issuing Almaden Minerals’ mineral titles in 2003 and 2009. 

SCJN also provided additional information regarding the procedures required to conduct an appropriate Indigenous consultation. It also stressed that the company’s claim applications were made following the legal framework at the time and that Almaden Minerals’ rights were safeguarded while the authorities conduct the proper Indigenous consultations. 

In July 2022, SE notified the company’s mineral titles were ineffective, which the company interpreted meant they had reverted to the application status. However, this entailed the company still held the concession but was not allowed to carry out exploration activities until SE conducted a proper Indigenous consultation. 

Almaden Minerals said SE now argues that the applications from 2002 and 2009 have technical mistakes, which is an obstacle to granting mineral claims. The company believes SE seeks to deny needing to grant these concessions before conducting the Indigenous consultation ordered by the Supreme Court.

At the time of writing, SE’s claim has not been accepted by the District Court.

Duane Poliquin, Chair, Almaden Minerals, said that this move is a “stark warning to all those who value a predictable and stable mineral tenure in Mexico.” Poliquin agreed it is positive that tenure systems evolve to fairly compensate Indigenous communities and comply with the International Labor Organization’s Resolution 169.

Photo by:   Matthew de Livera

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