A senator from Mexico’s ruling party MORENA issued a motion to propose a comprehensive reform to the Mining Law, intending to deem the mining industry a “matter of national security” and therefore bring it under much stricter state control.
MORENA Senator Blanca Piña issued a motion to label mining activities a “national security” issue, arguing that the current legislation has allowed companies to extract minerals to the detriment of the rights of Indigenous communities and industry workers. The motion comes after several MORENA members called for a reform to the Mining Law to ensure better conditions for workers and the environment. Nonetheless, it remains uncertain whether President López Obrador, his allies or other party members will support the motion.
The proposal includes changes to six articles of the Mining Law. Besides nationalization, it also proposes to cut concession terms, incorporate more consultation processes, establish that communities are respected according to the international treaties Mexico has signed and that concessions are canceled following accidents or security mishaps.
Article 6 presents the most changes, as the proposal eliminates the paragraph that gives mining a priority status in the use of land. Instead, it labels mining a national security issue and forbids the granting of permits, concessions, licenses or authorizations for the exploitation of minerals and stresses that all minerals belong to the state. It also calls for the implementation of international treaties regarding respect for Indigenous communities and safety for mining workers. Finally, it proposes the creation of a state mining company with the exclusive right to exploit strategic minerals.
The modification of Article 14 forbids mining activity in protected natural areas, wetlands and areas protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of 1971, territorial waters and water reserves, as well as sacred territories for Indigenous communities. The modification of Article 20 also forbids deepwater mining and coal mining using wells, as well as open-pit mining projects.
The modification of Article 15 proposes to shorten the terms of mining concessions, which currently are valid for 50 years, to only 12 years for exploration activities, with the possibility to extend them for another 12 years of production activities. With the addition of another paragraph for Article 40, mining concessions could be canceled if parties do not carry out a proper consultation process as established by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention 169, do not have an Environmental Impact Assessment (MIA) and if concession violate human, labor or environmental rights. The modification of Article 55 also considers environmental damage as a reason for concession cancelation.
Piña also proposes a reform to Article 17 of the National Assets Law, which allows the government to revoke a concession if the mining project is located in protected natural areas, important water areas, sacred areas for Indigenous people, and other areas of archeological, cultural, productive or demographic importance.