LatinNews Daily - 13 April 2023

MEXICO: Resistance builds to proposed mining reform

On 12 April, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador denied that a proposed reform to the mining law presented any risk to Mexico’s mining industry.


López Obrador was referring to a reform initiative that he presented to congress on 28 March. The initiative would modify the mining law, as well as the national water law, the general law of ecological equilibrium and environmental protection, and the general law for waste management. The reform would give the government more control over granting and cancelling mining concessions as well as reducing the length of concessions from 50 to 15 years and restricting where they may be granted. Private sector resistance to the reform continues to build, indicating it may well provide another point of contention between industry groups and López Obrador’s government.

  • In a press conference yesterday, López Obrador said the reform would likely lead to the cancellation of half the mining concessions in the country. He said this posed no problem for the mining industry given the quantity of concessions that existed (some 25,000), claiming 60% of Mexico had been given over to mining due to the number of concessions handed out in the “neoliberal period”.
  • López Obrador maintains that the reform would protect national resources and the environment. Under the reform, new mining concessions would not be granted in areas with water scarcity or in natural protected areas. Social impact studies and community consultations would be undertaken before granting concessions and companies operating in an area with an existing community would pay at least 10% of mining profits to the affected community.
  • The reform would also reduce the duration of mining concessions and introduce a single extension limit of 15 years.
  • Mexico’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), mining chamber (Camimex), and private sector lobby Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE) have warned against the reform’s economic impact. In a statement issued yesterday, CCE stated it would violate international treaties such as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), “threaten individual freedoms and human rights” and discourage greater development in the mining industry.
  • International credit ratings agency Moody’s has also warned against the reform, stating it would increase the regulatory burden for companies and hinder investment in the sector which accounts for 2.5% of Mexico’s GDP.

Looking Ahead: The reform would only need a simple majority to pass congress, which is likely as the ruling Movimiento Regeneración Nacional (Morena) and its allies enjoy a simple majority in both chambers.

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