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Sinaloa Strengthens Its Mining Ambitions

By Paloma Duran | Mon, 06/28/2021 - 13:38

Q: What is CLUMISIN trying to achieve in Sinaloa and its mining sector?

A: Traditionally, Sinaloa has been seen as an agricultural, livestock and fishing state. Mining has not been seen as a main industry for the state, which is odd because Sinaloa has been a mining state since colonial times.

The Sinaloa Cluster wants mining to be seen as an essential industry and to be recognized for its important impact the state’s development. To that end, we have made a great effort within academia to promote the sector and its benefits. Previously, the Autonomous University of Sinaloa did not have a specialized career for mining engineers but through a strong alliance, we were able to create engineering careers. We are contacting public and private schools to raise awareness about the opportunities that exist if more specialized careers for miners are opened. The demand for employees is there. We would support participating schools with information and training.

Q: What is CLUIMISIN doing to attract more investment to Sinaloa?

A: We have around 20 mining projects in the state. Large companies, such as First Majestic, McEwen Mining, ArcelorMittal, Americas Gold and Silver and Prime Mining, believe in the potential of the state. These companies are the engine of development and an important source of jobs for Sinaloa.

Lately, we have witnessed an increase in investment in the state that has much to do with the reduced contagion rate of COVID-19 cases. In 2020, the pandemic greatly affected the mining sector, especially due to the lockdowns and its label as a non-essential industry. However, the mining sector has experienced signs of recovery and it looks like mining companies will have a better year in 2021.

Mining is an important industry for the development of Mexico and I firmly believe that greater investment attraction requires greater governmental support. Some of the statements and policies issued by the federal government, as well as the closing of the Undersecretary of Mining, have been severe setbacks for the industry. These actions have sent a negative message about the industry, suggesting that it is not as important as other sectors. Fortunately, some authorities have recognized the importance of mining and the benefits it brings to the country.

Q: What are your members’ main concerns and how are you working together to address them?

A: The main concerns have been the governmental policies that have hindered the sector, such as the suspension of concessions and the dismantling of the Mining Fund. We have tried to hold discussions with officials and to propose solutions to improve the situation. It has been said that taxes will go to the Ministry of Education, so the cluster has advocated that this money be allocated to host communities so that they can obtain greater benefits. The institutions that grant permits are also a concern because they have not started working on a full-time basis. Additionally, with the pandemic, the permitting processes take longer. As a cluster, we are working to provide certainty. We are advocating for the rights of the sector and to change its negative image.

Q: What support is the cluster receiving from the state and federal governments?

A: The government of Sinaloa has provided great support because it is in favor of mining. We are also in contact with the federal government, although the decisions and opinions of the president have a great impact on the sector. Despite this, we have a good relationship with the federal government. We hope that the proposal of Minister of Economy Tatiana Clouthier to hold mining roundtables will result in greater cooperation and union between the sector and the government.

Q: What impact do you think the midterm elections will have on the mining sector?

A: The cluster and mining companies need to have a better relationship with the new government, while voicing the current state of the industry and the opportunities that exist. Normally with the changes in government, there is also a change in mining management. We would like that the person in the government who fills this position be someone who knows and is interested in mining. The government has a lot of weight in the development of the sector and the investments that may come to Sinaloa so we hope to have an open government that seeks to continue promoting mining activities.

Q:  What benefits do companies gain from joining the cluster?

A: We are the connection between government officials and mining companies. We offer webinars and workshops to promote responsible mining in Sinaloa. Likewise, when a mining company comes to us with a specific concern, we provide a solution through expert training.  As a cluster, we can easily contact industry and government leaders, which is very beneficial to companies. In addition, we have a job board for people interested in working in the industry, which is an additional service for our partners to help them find specialized labor in our state.

Q: What training does the cluster provide to implement responsible mining practices?

A: Sinaloa has associations like “Accionarse” that promote responsible practices. We also meet with mining companies and provide them with advice on how to be more socially and ecologically responsible. We look for solutions that can adapt to our mining companies because we know that the majority of our companies are small and medium-sized and, therefore, they do not have a large budget for ESG programs. We can also help them with all the governmental procedures. I believe that our greatest challenge in the implementation of responsible practices is our culture. Canadian companies come with this chip of responsibility because they know the consequences that can result from poor management. In Mexico, people need to place greater emphasis on the care of the environment and the implementation of responsible practices. It is important to foster a responsible culture.

Q: How well has Mexico adapted Mining 4.0 and how are you promoting new innovations within the cluster?

A: Mining 4.0 is about technology, efficiency and sustainability. It is about using your resources in the best possible way. Mexico has been progressing gradually. Mining 4.0 is the new trend, so we will see more and better implementation of it in the coming years.

We offer webinars, workshops and training to further drive these new innovations within the industry. In Mexico, there are many different-sized companies and each one has a different stance on this issue. Some are resisting this change but it is just a matter of time before they turn to Mining 4.0. because this is the future of mining. We want to be the main link between the mining industry and technology companies to facilitate this transition.

Sinaloa Mining Cluster (CLUMISIN) was created with the objective of empowering the mining sector in the region, together with all its actors: mining companies, suppliers, government and academia.

Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst