Water Will Remain a Challenge for the Mining Sector
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Water Will Remain a Challenge for the Mining Sector

Photo by:   Kereem Karaarslan
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Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 13:56

Last year, Mexico’s northern states experienced severe droughts that interrupted daily operations and even led local governments to ration water. The industry fears a similar scenario for 2023, which could prove to be even more difficult to manage as regulatory changes demand companies to improve their water systems.

According to the France-based water solutions company Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions, 85 percent of Mexico’s territory will face droughts, of which 25 percent may be extreme drought levels. The company believes that states with long mining histories like Baja California, Sonora, Durango, Zacatecas and Nuevo Leon will suffer the most from water scarcity.

Veolia highlighted that water-related issues may grow. By March 2023, the changes made in the National Waters Law will take effect. According to Diego Arenque, Director of Marketing and Communications, Veolia, companies only have two months to implement water treatment plants and water reuse methods as they will be required by law. Arenque said that if companies do not adopt strict measures, water scarcity could reach 97 percent in 2023. “Although the implementation of water treatment and reuse systems will demand millionaire investments for industries, it is crucial to implement the law in time and in due form to avoid larger water stress. Companies should not see this as an expense but as a future investment that will make their business more profitable,” he added. 

Efficient water usage is a widespread practice in the mining industry, which has expressed its commitment to reduce shortages. Karen Flores, Director General, the Mexican Mining Chamber (CAMIMEX), contacted the Chamber of Deputies’ Water Resources Commission to notify it of the actions the mining industry takes to reduce its water consumption. She says that although the mining sector consumes less water than many other industries, it is important that all sectors contribute to avoiding wasting water. “Mining accounts for only 0.35 percent of the water concessions, a very low percentage in comparison with other industries… We will install more than 70 water treatment plants,” Flores said. 

According to CAMIMEX, the mining sector is one of the most water-efficient industries since many companies invest in closed water circuits. For instance, Grupo México, Mexico’s largest copper producer, reuses over 76 percent of the water it consumes in its daily operations. CAMIMEX highlights that despite being water responsible, the mining sector represents 50 percent of the government income for water usage permits as other larger water-consuming sectors like farming and livestock do not have to pay those fees. 

Photo by:   Kereem Karaarslan

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