Grupo Mexico considers mining for rare earths
Conglomerate Grupo Mexico (OTCMKTS:GMBXC), the country’s largest mining company, is considering expanding into rare earth metals, a group of elements of increasing importance in variety of industries including green technology, defence systems, consumer electronics, and high-tech applications.
The mining powerhouse may start at its operations in Sonora and Chihuahua states, which have already proven to have economically viable rare earths deposits. Later, the firm would expand further south in Oaxaca and Chiapas, local news agency Agencia Reforma reported (in Spanish).
The news come only weeks after the government announced it would begin funding explorations projects to locate deposits of the coveted elements.
Given the recent ties with South Korea, which has been supporting Mexican universities and firms in their dawning quest for rare earths, the company could become the main provider of such materials to Seoul, a spokesman Grupo Mexico told Agencia Reforma.
The Mexico city-based group is engaged in operations and exploration projects related mainly to copper, molybdenum, zinc, silver, gold, and lead ores in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and the US.
Mexico, the world’s 10th-biggest oil producer, is in the midst of ambitious reforms proposed by the government last year. These aim to throw open the country’s energy sector for the first time in more than seven decades. They also seek generating cheap energy to fuel local industries.
The country’s mining industry employs about 334,000 directly, with 2 million people employed indirectly, making the sector the country's fourth largest industry in dollar income, behind cars, oil and electronics.
The amount of rare earth deposits Mexico may have it is not yet known, but it has already been proven that the country holds vast underwater reserves of these elements off its west coast.
Deep-sea mining, however, is unlikely to replace land-based mining, believe experts, but they add it could alleviate the fear of shortages and challenge China’s virtual monopoly on REE production.