Miguel Ángel Lucero
Senator and President of the Senate’s Ordinary Commission of Mining and Regional Development
Senado de la República
Expert Contributor

Senate Mining Commission Readies New Agenda

By Miguel Ángel Lucero | Wed, 07/21/2021 - 09:10

At an early age, I experienced the mining process in the mountains of the state of Durango, where I am originally from. Accompanied by my grandfather, we searched for gold on the riverside. Years later, I have the opportunity to be a Senator and President of the Ordinary Commission of Mining and Regional Development, one of the most important commissions in the Senate of the Republic, given the strategic importance of this industrial sector to the nation.

The main role of the Mining and Regional Development Committee is the analysis and drafting of opinions for law initiatives and proposals with points of agreement presented by senators from the different parliamentary groups, international instruments, and appointments that are referred to them by the presiding officers. However, they also receive communications related to proposals and concerns made by ejidatarios of indigenous communities, associations of small and medium mining producers, environmental organizations and business chambers. In this regard, it is sufficient for the committee to agree on how to deal with these matters, informing the applicant of the activities carried out to deal with them.

There are 46 ordinary committees in the Chamber of Senators. Among them is the Mining and Regional Development Commission, which was created by agreement of the Political Coordination Board on Oct. 4, 2018, for the development of the activities of the LXIV Legislature of the Chamber of Senators. On the other hand, the Mining and Regional Development Commission is a collegiate body whose fundamental task is to intervene decisively, through its opinions, reports or resolutions, in the improvement of the national legal framework, which corresponds to the Senate in matters of mining and regional development. This allows for the equitable and sustainable progress of the different areas of the country, complying with the principles of legality, honesty, efficiency and impartiality.

The legislative work of the Mining and Regional Development Commission during the LXIV Legislature has focused on the analysis of legislative proposals regarding the creation of government bodies, such as the Mexican Geological Service, the implementation of Free and Informed Prior Consultation, requirements for water concessions, as well as the analysis of proposals to grant powers to issue sanctions to the Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources.

Although the population, in general, does not have a defined position on mining, in recent years, various nongovernmental organizations and indigenous communities have spoken out against mining activity, mainly because of the violation of their right to be consulted on extractive projects on their properties or areas of influence that may affect their way of life, particularly for open-pit mining projects.

Trends in environmental protection and conservation have led to legislative proposals with a focus on sustainable development, which provide a new perspective on what the new Mexican mining industry should be like, with citizen participation, care for the environment and social responsibility toward the communities as activities that mining companies should reinforce.

We are about to begin the LXV Legislature, where the Mining and Regional Development Commission will analyze initiatives on mining in Protected Natural Areas, the implementation of free and informed prior consultation in mining projects and proposals for the digitalization and streamlining of procedures. In addition to the redistribution of the Mining Fund in which, through the construction of better policies and legislative proposals, legal norms are endorsed that allow for the promotion of scientific research and technological innovation in mining.

To this end, the members of the Commission on Mining and Regional Development are prepared to undertake a priority agenda, in which the open parliament will be crucial for decision-making, including the participation of mining experts, academics, small and medium-sized producers and environmental organizations, as well as the labor sector and all those involved in the matter. This will be done with the aim of shaping a legal framework of international standards toward more sustainable development that allows us to find a balance between industrial viability, social and labor responsibility, as well as environmental responsibility and care for biodiversity and sustainable use of our natural resources.

The mining sector must adopt commitments in response to these demands. The social, environmental and social license factors have led mining companies to promote best practices at an international level, even exceeding legal guidelines. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done, in which the government, environmental organizations and the private sector will work hand in hand to make mining in Mexico an international benchmark for socially and environmentally responsible mining. 

Photo by:   Miguel Ángel Lucero