With the arrival of President´s López Obrador’s government, the territory concessioned to the mining industry has decreased significantly. Experts believe that this trend and the government's position of not granting more concessions could lead to the extinction of the industry.
In 2018, the country had 10.64 percent of its national territory concessioned to the mining industry. However, since López Obrador took office, the territory concessioned has been reduced to 8.59 percent, reported SEMARNAT.
María Luisa Albores, Minister of SEMARNAT, stressed that the country currently has 24,066 mining concessions, which are distributed in area over 16.83 million hectares. Albores explained that the reduction of the territory concessioned is not because the government cancelled concessions, but rather because no concessions have been granted and others have expired.
Moroever, Albores stressed that the government will continue to maintain its position of not granting concessions since they have been used without social or environmental responsibility. “With the complicity of past governments, mining companies have devastated ecosystems and hydrological basins, polluting entire regions. It is essential that the Mexican mining industry accelerate the adoption of best practices in water management and in socio-environmental co-responsibility with the government and the private sector,”said Albores.
For its part, CAMIMEX has stressed that the government needs to issue new mining concessions since without them the sector could be extinguished. “The mines run out, as oil runs out, if it is not explored in due time. And if we do not have concessions to explore anymore, the possibility of continuing to have mines disappears,” said José Jaime Gutiérrez Núñez, President of CAMIMEX.
Gutiérrez has emphasized that the Mexican mining has the potential to grow even further, however, better government support and incentives are needed. “The country has the necessary conditions to attract investment but the rules are unclear. We are a highly regulated industry, which is becoming more and more strict. This and uncertainty prevents us from evolving. Unfortunately, these conditions will continue in 2022,” said Gutiérrez.
Regarding the government's accusations that mining is a dirty industry, the Chamber has constantly sought to demonstratethe positive impact that mining generates. In 2020, CAMIMEX members benefited more than 690 communities through education, health, housing and service programs. In addition, in 2020, the sector invested MX$4.7 billion (US$22 million) in environmental actions, with which it increased its use of clean energy from 14 percent to 31 percent.
Karina Rodríguez Matus, Partner of Rodríguez, Matus & Feregrino told MBN, that the sector should not be judged for its past practices, otherwise it will not be possible to progress. “Past mining practices are not the same as current practices and the laws and circumstances have also changed. The past must be judged based on facts from the past and we must learn for the present and move forward toward a better future.”