Mining in Mexico: The sovereign take

November 4, 2013

The Economist, 11/2/2013

mineThe government needs to raise revenue in a country where tax avoidance is rife. The mining levy—a royalty of up to 7.5% on profits, plus 0.5% on revenue from precious metals—makes sense in principle. But it comes just when metal prices have swooned.

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Mining in Mexico: The sovereign take

November 1, 2013

MiningThe Economist, 11/1/2013

Bradford Cook runs his finger along a vein of ore rich in silver and gold and comes as near to purring as a veteran Canadian miner can. “This place has been mined for 450 years yet this little treasure box has been hiding less than 25 metres below ground,” he says. He points to the mine’s British manager, scrambling excitedly across the newly blasted rocks, and chuckles: “This is what Dave calls ‘horny’.”

But the object of their affection is rapidly tarnishing before their eyes. On October 30th, the day that Mr Cooke brought the board of his Vancouver-based company, Endeavour Silver, on their annual inspection of one of its three mines in central Mexico, the upper house of Congress approved a new mining tax proposed by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto. “If it goes through as is, our fourth mine will not be in Mexico,” declared Mr Cooke.

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Mining groups go on the defensive over Mexico taxation plans

October 28, 2013

MiningFinancial Times, 10/27/2013

Mexico is poised to levy some of the world’s harshest royalties on mining companies potentially hurting its business-friendly image just as, paradoxically, it seeks to open its energy sector up to private investment.

The proposal before the Senate, which has a deadline for approval of October 31, would impose a 7.5 per cent flat tax on mining profits, levy an extra 0.5 per cent on profits from precious metals and stop exploration expenses from being immediately tax deductible.

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Locals Risk Their Lives Fighting Mining in Mexico

June 27, 2013

MiningIPS, 6/27/2013

Under the 1992 mining law, Mexico has granted around 31,000 concessions to some 300 companies for more than 800 mining projects on nearly 51 million hectares. Most of the companies involved are Canadian, according to the economy ministry’s most recent figures. ProMéxico, the government office dedicated to drawing in foreign investment, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report that Mexico is the world’s top producer of silver, in third place for bismuth, fifth for molybdenum and lead, and ninth for gold.

In 2012, the mining industry generated 300,000 direct jobs in Mexico, accounted for seven billion dollars in investment, and represented two percent of GDP, according to official figures. ProMéxico predicts that in 2014, the mining industry’s contribution to GDP will rise to four percent, and that in the next six years, the sector will bring in 35 billion dollars in investment, in a country where 70 percent of the territory has significant mineral deposits, according to official estimates. But local communities have clashed with the mining companies because of the deforestation, water pollution and dumping of toxic liquid waste.

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Mining Stirs Tensions in Mexico

May 24, 2013

mineThe Wall Street Journal, 5/23/2013

An influx of mining investments throughout Latin America is bringing badly needed investment, but is also causing tensions in some communities, pitting those who see mines as job creators against those who view them as predatory, in some cases threatening scarce resources like water. Here in the Ocotlán valley in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, two outspoken opponents of a subterranean mine run by a small Canadian firm, Fortuna Silver Mines Inc., were killed in separate incidents in the past year. Dozens were beaten or threatened. Two local government officials who approved the mine, including the then-mayor, were killed by an anti-mining mob.

From 2006 to 2011, mining exploration investment in the region jumped 150% to $4.55 billion, top in the world and equal to one in every four dollars, according to the mining industry information company Metals Economics Group. The investments are creating jobs, roads and other benefits in some of the most neglected corners of the developing world. But it is also creating tensions in a region with a long and complicated history with mining.

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Exclusive: Mexico says mine industry investment could rise a bit through 2018

May 23, 2013

MiningReuters, 5/22/2013

Mexico sees total mining investment between 2013-2018 of at least $25 billion, holding steady or rising slightly from the previous six years despite the prospect of less favorable metals prices, Mexico’s top government mining official told Reuters on Wednesday. “We estimate total investment for the (president’s) six year term could be above or around $25 billion or $26 billion,” Mario Cantu Suarez, Mexico’s chief mining official, told Reuters at the BNAmericas Mexico mining summit.

Over the six-year term of former president Felipe Calderon, when metals prices saw an unprecedented boom thanks to top commodity buyer China, total investment reached $25 billion, with foreign companies accounting for 40 percent. Driven by Chinese demand, commodity prices soared in recent years, and Mexico’s mining income grew 134 percent between 2009-2011. Mining is now Mexico’s fourth largest industry in dollar income, behind automobiles, oil and electronics, according to official data.

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Mexican Gangs Set Their Sights On Illegal Mining

July 18, 2012

InSight Crime, 7/17/12

Mexico is one of the Latin America’s richest sources for minerals and its mining industry has experienced a period of sustained growth. In 2010, Mexico exported $15.47 billion in minerals and growth is forecast to continue at least until 2015. Though the benefits have been enormous for Mexico’s economy, the rise has in some cases been a burden thanks to the attention mining has garnered from crime syndicates. Cartels have begun targeting the industry more in recent years, kidnapping workers for ransom, extorting up to $37,000 a month in “security fees” from businesses, and stealing resources to sell on the black market.

In recent cases, cartels have even been found to operate their own mines. For example, in May it was announced that the federal government had discovered several illegal coal mines in the northeastern state of Coahuila being run by criminal gangs.

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Groupo Mexico seeks to claw back fines it paid

December 21, 2010

Reuters, 12/21/2010

Mexican mining giant Grupo Mexico said on Tuesday it is seeking evidence from a U.S. federal regulator that it thinks could show its Asarco subsidiary paid $210 million in excess environmental fines.

Copper miner and railroad operator Grupo Mexico said it has sought help from a federal court to obtain documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it claims would show Asarco was not responsible for environmental damage in Omaha, Nebraska.

Asarco is a mining interest in the United States controlled by Grupo Mexico which emerged from bankruptcy at the end of last year.

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Carlos Slim to open gold mines in Mexico

November 3, 2010

Los Angeles Times, 11/3/2010

Carlos Slim is eyeing gold.

The Mexican magnate and world’s richest man announced that one of his major companies has plans to open two mines in Mexico’s northern state of Chihuahua, in an investment of about $367 million. The new mining operation is expected to generate 4,000 jobs, said the governor of the violence-plagued state, where Ciudad Juarez is located.

In a news conference in Chihuahua City, Gov. Cesar Duarte called the plan a “breath of fresh air.”

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Drug gangs threaten Mexican mining industry

October 14, 2010

Reuters, 10/14/2010

Mining firms have shuttered a handful of exploration projects in remote areas of Mexico as the industry grapples with threats from drug cartels and rising security costs, Mexico’s mining chamber said on Thursday.

Cartels are threatening mining operations not just in the violent corridor along the U.S.-Mexico border but in isolated, mountainous regions in other parts of Mexico, where traffickers grow marijuana and heroin poppies, the chamber said.

Executives belonging to Mexico’s National Mining Chamber have reported cases of drug traffickers extorting, kidnapping, attacking and selling drugs to their workers.

Theft of precious metals is on the rise in Mexico, executives said. The government also said this week it caught one cartel member selling iron ore to firms exporting to China.

“We are living a very difficult situation,” said Ramon Davila, the COO of Vancouver-based First Majestic Silver Corp.

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