A close relationship between mining companies and the communities around the projects is essential to strengthen the industry in the country, generate certainty among investors and guarantee long-term social development. To achieve this goal, it is important to highlight the benefits that this sector offers for all other industries in Mexico, said Miguel Ángel Lucero Olivas, Mexican Senator and President of the Mining and Regional Development Commission during the webinar 'Mining's New Normal: Reactivating the Industry', organized by Francisco Quiroga, Undersecretary of Mining, and Mexico Business News.
One of the first steps to achieve this goal is to approach and dialogue with indigenous communities. "Usually, communities are not given adequate treatment, they are minimized and their human rights are violated," explains Gustavo Alanís, President of the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA). "Miners want to explore and extract underground resources, something that is legal and legitimate. However, communities also want to take care of their territory, culture and traditions. When there is no dialogue, problems arise," he adds.
According to Alanís, project information is more often than not unclear or reaches the communities at the wrong time, causing them to feel deceived and without participation. “The principles of environmental waste have to be put in practice to give confidence to communities. People are concerned about their health, the environmental resources of the place where they live in and the fact that their water bodies are contaminated," he explains.
“Transparency is a mechanism that seeks to make available to everyone information that is important for the country and decision-making. There are undoubtedly many challenges, but one of the things we have learned is that transparent information leads to the creation of better and stronger relationships between communities and the private sector,” said Francisco Paris, EITI Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. EITI is a global standard that aims to promote open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources.
Carlos Toledo Manzur, Director of the Strategic Alliance for the Sustainable Development of the South Pacific Region (ADESUR-CONACYT), agrees on this and proposes that spaces of participation be opened for mining communities. “Community members can be part of the mine's supply chain. Communities can be food suppliers for employees, for example. Instead of the company trying to make pure profits, there must be a commitment to regional development. "
“It is necessary to generate a mechanism of legal certainty and security for all parties through legislation. We have to address problems on time, with clear mechanisms that allow better communication and dialogue between companies and communities. Clear rules will do us all good,” said Karina Rodríguez Matus, an academic at Escuela Libre de Derecho and Partner at Rodríguez-Matus & Feregrino Abogados. This is in line with Gabriel Baeza Espejel’s view, Director of the Center for Intercultural Legal and Environmental Research (CIIJA), who considers it important to generate strategies to find out the best way to dialogue and report on the activities of mining projects to create an action plan with the government as an ally of mining companies.
"It is important and essential that in the new normality we continue to work together: the government and mining entrepreneurs. When the health crisis began, we had to pause. Now that we resumed our operations, it is essential that we are all aware that the stakes are high. We have to act with solidarity and commitment," said Javier Corral Jurado, Governor of the state of Chihuahua and guest of honor at the event.