Let’s Talk More About Responsible Mining
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Let’s Talk More About Responsible Mining

Photo by:   Ruben Cano
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By Ruben Cano Balcorta - CR Legal Partners Mexico
Founding Partner

STORY INLINE POST

Like any industry, mining in Mexico and in the world faces new challenges and opportunities on a daily basis. Today, we are witnessing a historic moment that tests our capacity and creativity to face and overcome, positively and proactively, the complex and structural challenges in  the sector.

And the question arises: What will be the fate of Mexican mining in the coming years? The interesting thing about the question is that there is no single answer. While the objective of responsible mining seems to be the same, which is to serve as a key and essential industry for the extraction, benefit and supply of metals and minerals for other industries and sectors and to create  economic and social wealth as well as being truly sustainable and respectful of the environment and human rights in general, it is also true that the various factors that have influenced the way in which mining companies operate, communicate and generate a positive impact around them have also changed in recent times.

The challenges and trends that will define the future of this industry that is so important for Mexico and for the world are many and varied, from sustainability, gender equality and inclusion, the sustainable redesign of value chains to strengthening relationships with stakeholders, management of labor relations in a constantly changing environment, the establishment of new standards in terms of relations and consultations with communities and Indigenous peoples, as well as many others derived from climate change that, among other matters, imposes challenges in water management, decarbonization of processes and urgent incorporation of methods and processes from the perspective of a circular economy, respectful of the rights of all, as well as being a responsible protector of a healthy environment. There are also other challenges, such as those derived from the global technological trends of digital transformation, job automation and electromobility, together with the new demands of markets and communities to achieve more sustainable mining processes.

However, recently in Mexico, the mining industry has had to defend and clarify certain points regarding its operation, derived from various statements and accusations by select public figures who have disseminated inaccurate information regarding the activities and behavior of mining companies. It is important to specify that there is often a lack of knowledge about the impact, benefits and significance of the responsible mining industry, a reality that is sometimes overshadowed by certain voices that irresponsibly, and most seriously, without any foundation, try to tarnish the reputation of an industry that has been a benchmark and spearhead for decades in regulatory compliance, positive impact on the communities where it operates, generator of well-paid sources of employment, supply chains with a high positive impact on host communities and respect for human rights, among many others.

Let's say it clearly, without mining there is nothing because mining is the beginning of everything, and the responsible mining industry is truly an engine of social development, a reducer of inequality and a promoter of general well-being. But that is a manifest truth that remains isolated and alien to society, Mexicans, children, the public sector, communities and the population in general, and that runs the risk of vanishing and losing strength, and more seriously, of losing credibility before its detractors.

The responsible mining industry cannot only be responsible and positive for miners. It is not enough for us to share among the members of the industry the figures of the jobs created by mining companies and contractors, the very important contribution to GDP, the amount of taxes that is actually paid every year and the way in which the mining industry strictly complies with the laws and regulations that regulate it.

There seems to be a missing link in the chain, and we cannot allow the voices that misinform, lie, confuse, and discredit the industry to have more power than the truth of the industry. We are experiencing an incredible opportunity to reorganize ourselves as an industry, continue generating value, form and strengthen strategic alliances, including the public and private sectors, to create a new narrative on mining and convey a more accurate and attractive future for miners, both women and men. We have the challenge of being able to sustain the generation of value and promote, at the same time, productive and technological development. This requires that we use existing capabilities to incubate and generate new capabilities.

Perhaps it is time for mining to come out of the mines, for the narrative of responsible mining to touch homes, cellphones, the radio, social networks, but mainly, the criteria of society. Perhaps we should go back to the basics, to schools and universities, not only those where subjects related to earth sciences are taught, but also to schools of law, administration, finance, and human resources. The young people of Mexico deserve to know that they have a responsible mining industry where they can find an honest livelihood for their families in the near future. Let's look at the examples of other countries, such as Australia, Sweden, and Canada. Their mining competitiveness rests not only on their mineral wealth, but also on an advanced innovation system of mining companies, suppliers, technology centers, collaborative programs, among other actors, along with sustained and growing public and private investment and a clear narrative about the benefits of the industry.

Our responsible mining operates under global standards and has a large and well-established supplier sector; let's now involve various actors who so far  have been oblivious to the benefits of mining. Let's involve society, seek out local mining ambassadors, empower our miners so that they can continue to be proud representatives of the economic engine of Mexico that mining represents. Let's talk more about responsible mining, with everyone, until the truth about the importance of our industry does not have to be defended only by members of the sector but is proudly defended and promoted by Mexican society as one voice. 

Photo by:   Ruben Cano

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