Mexico is a major producer of silver, base metals and gold. It is still a leading producer of silver, celestite and bismuth, accounting for 17%, 38% and 29% of the world production respectively. The country is ranked among the world’s top ten in barite, manganese, salt, lead and zinc production. Base metals such as zinc and lead are important products in the country’s mining sector. Silver is generally produced as by products of base metal and gold mining activities. Due to the polymetallic nature of many of Mexico’s mineral deposits, careful attention is required to effectively extract all the metals economically.
During the Asian crisis and resultant commodity price slump, Mexico’s mining industry fared badly compared to that of its other North American neighbours and most of the countrys mining sectors have registered declines in production.
Mexico is the currently attracting significant foreign investment, in particular from Canadian (43%) and American investors (39%). Foreign investment in Mexico’s mining industry has slumped to $700 million, after $800 million was spent in 1999. Of this amount $111 million was spent on exploration. The total number of foreign companies investing in Mexico is estimated at 440, of which 360 are American or Canadian.
Mexico’s mineral industry, represented by the Consejo de Recursos Minerales (or Mineral Resources Council), is still in the process of transferring mining and mineral leases to the private sector. The Secretaria de Comercio y Fomento Industrial (SECOFI) or the Ministry of Commerce and Development is responsible formining national policy and the promotion and regulation of the mining industry.
Mexico’s mining industry can be split into three categories:
- large domestic producers,
- small domestic producers
- and foreign firms.
There are four major domestic producers, Industrias Peñoles (precious and base metals and world’s largest producer of refined silver), Grupo Industrial Minera Mexico (responsible for 90% of Mexico’s copper production), Empresas Frisco and Luismin.
The main mining provinces in Mexico are Sonora, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Baja California Sur, San Luis Potosí, Durango and Guanajuato.
The Mining Law or Ley Minera is the section of legislation that governs Mexicos mining sector. The General Directorate of Mines (GDM), under the authority of the General Mining Co-ordinator, has the authority to enforce the Mining Law and its regulations.
Mexican mining law offers the following advantages:
- It allows direct foreign investment with up to 100% ownership of the capital stock.
- Exploration concessions shall have a not extendible six years life.
- Exploitation concessions shall have a term of fifty years. Such concessions may be further extended for the same term.
- There are no limits for the mining concession surfaces.
- Exploration concessions shall be substituted by one or more exploitation concessions.
- It allows private sector participation in minerals previously considered as exclusive for the government (sulphur, phosphorus, potassium, iron ore and coal).
- The general guidelines issued by the concession granting bidding for non-incorporated assignations are established. The concept of economic counterproposal is added.
- Timing and authority’s answers to the cancelling of concessions, or substitutions obtained in a bidding are established, and the same applies to cases when the bidding was declared deserted.
Behre Dolbear de Mexico, SA de CV, Dowa Mining (Mexico), Glamis de Mexico S.A. de C.V., Great Panther Resources Ltd, Grupo Frisco, Grupo Mexico SA de CV, Industrias Peñoles, S.A. de C.V, Industrias Peñoles, S.A. de C.V., Luismin, Minera Carbonifera Rio Escondido, Minera San Xavier, S.A. de C.V., Mineral del Norte
Avino, Cananae, Cerro San Pedro, Charcas, Dios Padre Silver Mine, Dolores, El Captain, El Porvenir, El Sauzal, Francisco I. Madero, La Caridad, La Colorada, La Guitarra, La Herradura, La Trinidad, Las Torres, Lluvia de Oro, Magistral gold mine, Milpillas, Monterde