LatinNews Daily - 17 April 2023

In brief: Mexico’s environment ministry backs mining reforms

* Mexico’s ministry for the environment and natural resources (Semarnat) has denounced the impact of mining on agricultural land and the environment. Environment Minister María Luisa Albores spoke to the lower chamber as deputies prepare to vote on President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s proposed mining sector reforms which would reduce the length of mining concessions from 50 to 15 years and place tighter restrictions on where they may be granted. Albores detailed the environmental impact of mining, which she said had polluted the air, water and soil to the detriment of surrounding populations and had affected 15m hectares of farmland, causing local communities to oppose at least 169 projects between 2013 and 2018. Furthermore, she said that since 1992, 65,534 concessions for mining exploration and exploitation had been granted in Mexico, affecting 117m hectares of land in total, which she said translates to around 60% of the country. Albores stressed that Mexico needed “a juridical framework that responds to the urgent need to provide the environmental sector with the legal tools needed to effectively defend natural resources and safeguard the wellbeing of communities”. The private sector has strongly opposed the reform, which it states would harm Mexico’s economy, violate international trade treaties, and discourage investment in the mining sector.

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