Discussions on Mexico’s mining law overhaul to begin on Monday

MPs from the ruling Morena party advocating for the overhaul of Mexico’s mining laws. (Image by the Chamber of Deputies, YouTube.)

Discussions related to the proposed overhaul of Mexico’s mining laws are set to begin on April 17 at the parliament’s lower chamber.

The Environment and Natural Resources Commission is expected to submit the draft opinion of the reform for discussion on Monday, a requirement for the United Commissions on Energy and Commerce and Competitiveness to begin ruling.

Submitted by the executive power on March 28, 2023, to the Chamber of Deputies, the proposal aims to modify the Mining Law, the National Water Law, the General Law for Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection, and the General Law for the Prevention and Management of Mine Waste.

Among other things, this overhaul would imply shortening concessions to 15 from 50 years, tightening rules for water permits and requirements to give back at least 10% of profits to communities and disclosing mining impacts.

The proposal also intends to forbid concession holders from expropriating land for mining exploitation and replacing land titles with monetary deals. In parallel, it establishes that the concession granting mechanism should operate through a public tender, and prohibits mining concessions in protected areas.

Even though the plan presented by the Andrés Manuel López Obrador administration seems to be moving forward in the parliamentary process, the head of Mexico’s mining chamber issued a stark warning against it, saying it could cost the country some $9 billion in lost investment in the coming years and up to 420,000 direct jobs.

Similarly, the Association of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists and Geologists of Mexico (AIMMGM) issued a communiqué asking for the Lower Chamber to organize a town hall so that the 70 sectors that may be affected by the reform can better learn about its scope. Overall, the AIMMGM estimates that the mining industry is responsible for over 3.5 million direct and indirect jobs.

Mexico is the world’s top silver producer and one of the largest producers of copper and gold. The country also hosts lithium resources, which were nationalized last year by a presidential decree.