- Title: Mining firms in Mexico must face 'strict' scrutiny, says senior official
- Date: 17th September 2021
- Summary: MAZAPIL, ZACATECAS, MEXICO (FILE - SEPTEMBER 21, 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF TRUCK AT MINE GENERAL VIEW OF OPEN PIT MINE OPERATIONS AT MINE
- Embargoed: 1st October 2021 14:26
- Keywords: Mexico environment mining
- Location: MAZAPIL, ZACATECAS + MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
- City: MAZAPIL, ZACATECAS + MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: South America / Central America,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001EV3YC07
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Mining companies in Mexico should expect tough environmental reviews given their projects' major impacts, a senior official told Reuters, insisting that a backlog of evaluations is easing despite industry claims that the opposite is true.
A top-ten global producer of over a dozen minerals, Mexico's multi-billion-dollar mining sector makes up around 8% of Latin America's second-biggest economy, but miners are concerned they are facing increased hostility from Mexico's leftist government.
Tonatiuh Herrera, deputy environment minister who oversees regulatory compliance, said in an interview that pandemic-related closures last year did contribute to a backlog of environmental evaluations for mines but the ministry never stopped processing permits.
Mining company executives have argued that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has undercut mining with record regulatory delays caused largely by steep budget cuts at the ministry, and warned companies may shift new investments to more inviting countries.
Herrera said open pit mines will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis due to their impact on local communities and especially water resources.
But they have not been banned, he added, appearing to walk back comments made earlier this year by his boss, Environment Minister Maria Luisa Albores.
In May, Albores said open pit mining had been prohibited on orders from Lopez Obrador, a resource nationalist, who has criticised some foreign miners of seeking to avoid paying taxes.
Open pit mines, in which ore-rich soil from sprawling surface deposits is scooped up by giant trucks, account for about one-third of Mexico's most-productive mines.
18 major mining projects representing investment of nearly $2.8 billion are stalled due to unresolved ministry permitting, including eight MIAs and 10 separate land-use authorisations, data from mining chamber Camimex show.
(Production: Josue Gonzalez, Rodolfo Pena Roja, Paul Vieira)
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