Senator Angélica García Arrieta of the MORENA party presented an initiative to change the Mining Law. The initiative, which was presented on November 15th, would require mining projects to be subjected to social impact assessments prior to granting the concession.
In our previous post, we recalled that Mexico’s Supreme Court has held in a series of cases the need to consult with indigenous communities before authorizing projects that may pose a health or environmental risk. This initiative goes one step further and would require the Ministry of Economy, in coordination with the Mexican Geological Service, to carry out social impact studies in concession areas. Social impact, which has received international attention, refers to the effects, both positive and negative, that mining activities will have on a community.
The initiative, which is based on the Hydrocarbons Law, proposes four fundamental changes to the Law: a) the need for social impact assessments; b) the duty to consult indigenous communities; c) the need to establish funds for affected communities, and d) the power to cancel any mining concession that fails to address negative social impacts.
In order to do this, the initiative proposes to:
- grant the Mexican Geological Service authority to carry out social impact studies for mining regions and projects;
- authorize the Ministry of Economy to declare non-viable exploitation zones;
- allow authorities to cancel mining projects due to negative social impact;
- require mining concessions to comply with sustainability principles and respect for human rights of indigenous communities, and
- require assistance funds in mining concessions;
- require concessionaires to render an annual social impact report that includes projected mitigation measures and social management plans.
The full text of the initiative may be found here (text in Spanish).
Update: The Senate rejected the proposed changes in legislation in April 2019.