Supreme Court Declares Mining Law Reform Lawsuit AdmissibleBy Fernando Mares | Mon, 06/06/2022 - 17:42
On May 27, 2022, 43 opposition members of PAN, PRI, PRD, Movimiento Ciudadano and the recently formed Grupo Plural filed an unconstitutionality action against the recently approved Mining Law reform. President of the National Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN), Arturo Zaldívar, instructed to turn the file to one of the ministers of the court, who then had to decide whether to admit it or reject it. This Thursday, a magistrate admitted the lawsuit.
Minister Norma Piña accepted the request presented by the opposition senators, who named Julen Rementería, Miguel Osorio and Miguel Mancera as their legal representatives. She fixed a term of 15 business days for both Congress and the President to present a report and send a certified copy of the Mining Law decree’s legislative antecedents, as well as of the Official Gazette where it was published. If the parties do not send the required files, the Court will work with the information it already has.
The Supreme Court did not establish a deadline to pass a final judgment. Therefore, it could take around a year to get to a conclusion, as has happened in recent cases related to energy decrees. Even though lawsuit has been admitted, this does not interfere with the deadline of 90 business days in which President López Obrador must create a state-owned lithium company, as was established in the Mining Law reform.
The Court will have to clarify if there were irregularities during the fast-track reform process, since the decree passed directly to the Chamber of Deputies without being discussed by t specialized commissions that review legislation. In the same vein, the Court will analyze if the reform violates the Constitution’s Article 27, which establishes that concessions can be granted for mineral resources to privates.
On Apr 20, 2022, the initiative to modify articles 1, 5, 9 and 10 of the Mining Law was approved as a backup plan for the failed new Energy Reform. The mining reform put the control of lithium in the hands of the state, which will now have to create a national lithium company to exploit the strategic resource. Nevertheless, experts argue that lithium developments involve higher financial risks and require technology the government does not have access to. Therefore, they argue the issue may be better left to private companies.