Canada and Mexico

Mexican mining chamber talks shop with economy minister

Bnamericas Published: Monday, February 06, 2023

Mexican mining chamber Camimex has held a meeting with Raquel Buenrostro, who took over as economy minister in October of last year, to discuss the current situation in the industry.

The sector has been on tenterhooks in recent times, as the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has elected not to grant any new mining concessions, among various other concerns for the industry.

“The Mexican mining chamber appreciates the time of Raquel Buenrostro ... and her team to talk about the current situation of mining in Mexico," Camimex said on its Twitter account.

A chamber spokesperson was unable to confirm to BNamericas whether this was the first meeting with the minister since she replaced Tatiana Clouthier, nor did it provide any further details of the meeting.

In mid-November, the head of Camimex, Karen Flores, said in an interview with BNamericas that the chamber was awaiting a meeting with the new minister of economy to continue discussing a plan to work together to promote exploration, improve security and strengthen the rule of law in mining areas, and promote responsible mining, among other issues.

Expectations of a rapprochement with the new authorities seemed to be fading in early December, when Buenrostro, formerly head of tax authority SAT, said in a press conference that the mining companies paid just 0.002% of their total revenues to the treasury.

Buenrostro added that there was "a very strong problem of corruption" regarding the issue of concessions, because they were granted to people who failed to meet the requirements and, in some cases, the same concession was granted to more than one person.

Camimex has reiterated that the mining sector in Mexico faces various challenges due to a halt in the award of new concessions, which is causing stagnation in the industry because of the lack of new projects, as well as delays in permitting procedures and a dearth of incentives to conduct exploration.

Meanwhile, the government is working to renegotiate the terms under which lithium concessions were awarded before the government nationalized production of the white metal last year, with a view to paving the way to carry out its ambitious Plan Sonora, which involves strengthening the northwestern state's supply chains with the US, building out significant solar and wind generation, and spurring electric vehicle production, for which lithium is a crucial factor. 

Government officials are also planning to meet representatives of Canadian mining companies with which there are various pending issues to be resolved, as stated by AMLO himself.

During the first 11 months of 2022, metal and non-metallic mining in Mexico reported a drop of 0.5%, according to the monthly industrial activity indicator published by statistics bureau Inegi, demonstrating the stagnancy in the sector last year, which was caused partly by the weak performance of other industries such as construction and steel.

Between January and September, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mexico's mining industry plunged 55.9% compared with the same period of 2021, according to preliminary government data.

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