MEXICO CITY, Feb 22 (IPS) – The talk in Mexico and at a global stage is concentrated on sure minerals which can be elementary to the power transition, corresponding to cobalt, lithium and nickel. However there are different indispensable minerals that stay within the background.
Along with lithium deposits, Mexico has confirmed sources of bismuth, copper, fluorspar, graphite, molybdenum and zinc, concerned in a method or one other within the completely different processes of the transition to a low-carbon economic system.
Beatriz Olivera, founding father of the non-governmental group Vitality, Gender and Setting, confused that Latin America’s second largest economic system has the mining potential to make this transition doable.
“However we have now an extractive mannequin, the mineral is extracted and developed elsewhere,” she stated, criticizing Mexico’s present mining insurance policies, and specifically the weather that tackle particular worth on the trail in the direction of power decarbonization, a system to comprise world warming.
“If these minerals are extracted, the place is the worth chain, the profit for nations like Mexico? We’re solely going to be left with the detrimental penalties and sacrifice zones are going to be created to fulfill applied sciences in different components of the world,” she stated in an interview with IPS.
Olivera is co-author of a forthcoming report on Mexico’s strategic transition metals that identifies 23 minerals for purposes corresponding to electrical installations, photo voltaic and wind energy crops, in addition to power storage gadgets corresponding to batteries.
The group recognized 803 mining tasks, of which 237 have a mineral granted in concession that’s usable within the transition, most of them inactive, however nonetheless in power.
Nearly half are within the preliminary stage, almost a 3rd in exploration, 13 % in pre-production and the remaining are in pre-feasibility, growth or closed.
In the meantime, 58 of the ventures belong to corporations from Canada, 29 from Mexico, 26 from the U.S., seven from Australia, three from the UK, one from China, and in 113 instances the origin of the corporate is unknown.
Mexico’s mining portfolio
Mexico is at the moment the world’s main silver producer and can also be a serious participant within the 12 minerals market.
In 2020, the nation ranked second in world fluorspar manufacturing, fifth in bismuth, molybdenum and lead, sixth in zinc, ninth in copper and tenth in manganese.
In 2020, Mexican deposits produced 1.07 million tons of fluorspar, 732,863 tons of copper, 688,461 tons of zinc, 260,390 tons of lead, 198,448 tons of manganese, 18,562 tons of molybdenum and 1844 tons of graphite, in response to the official Statistical Yearbook of Mexican Mining.
The nation has 38 clay deposits containing lithium, potassium, magnesium and sodium, of which not less than 10 comprise 5 billion tons of those minerals, though their extractive and financial viability has but to be analyzed, impartial knowledgeable José Parga advised IPS.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that Mexico has lithium reserves of 1.7 million tons.
A part of the federal government’s electrical energy reform proposal for the general public sector to regain management of this business contains the nationalization of lithium and the creation of a state-owned firm to mine it.
Mexico has reserves of 53,000 tons of copper, 68,000 tons of fluorspar, 5,000 tons of manganese, 5,600 tons of lead and 19,000 tons of zinc, in response to the USGS.
The mining regulation in power in Mexico since 1992 prohibits state-owned entities from mining found minerals, which in apply means the privatization of the sector, because the exercise stays of their arms and the State merely regulates it.
Though there isn’t any exploitation of cerium, dysprosium, erbium, scandium, europium, gadolinium, holmium, ytterbium, yttrium, lanthanum, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, terbium and thulium – the so-called uncommon earths, the set of 17 parts which have develop into elementary for the transition – exploration is advancing for a mission within the northern state of Coahuila.
As well as, zinc deposits might present indium, gallium and germanium – different essential parts for the power transition that Mexico doesn’t at the moment produce.
A lot of the veins are positioned within the northern a part of the nation.
Partially harnessed potential
Parga underscored Mexico’s potential, which has been solely partially tapped.
“There may be certainty that the supplies are there, however they haven’t really been the topic of an analysis that may permit us to essentially know their potential and the eventual technical-economic viability of their exploitation,” he acknowledged in his dialogue with IPS.
The knowledgeable stated, “step one to reap the benefits of the nation’s mineral sources is to analyze their existence, quantify and classify them to make the very best use.”
For not less than a decade, worldwide organizations have been warning concerning the consumption of uncooked supplies for the power transition, which might result in their depletion or “peak consumption”.
As well as, the mining business has triggered protests and resistance in communities all through the nation the place it operates, as a result of environmental injury brought about, the low variety of native jobs generated and its small contribution to the Mexican economic system.
In actual fact, there are at the moment greater than 50 conflicts between native populations and mining corporations within the nation.
In Mexico, the power transition has been at a standstill since 2019 as a result of insurance policies of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who favors help for fossil fuels and hydroelectric energy crops, to the detriment of renewable sources corresponding to wind and photo voltaic.
Moreover, this Latin American nation, with a territory of 1.96 million sq. kilometers, 10 % of which has been granted in concession to mining corporations, lacks a nationwide business linked to the transition or a technique for its improvement.
In consequence, there isn’t any manufacturing of wind generators, photo voltaic cells or electrical vehicles, because the uncooked materials is exported and returns within the type of parts to assemble photo voltaic panels or electrical autos.
At a sluggish tempo
Nonetheless, there are already some makes an attempt within the Mexican market, such because the meeting of electrical items within the central state of Puebla, neighboring Mexico Metropolis.
As well as, the international ministry, with help from the College of California, launched on Feb. 8 the U.S.-Mexico Electrification Working Group, which seeks “to make sure a coordinated and strategic transition in the direction of electromobility.”
In 2022, the events will design a binational roadmap, which features a analysis of the automotive sector in each nations and their alternatives within the electrical transition. Electromobility refers back to the introduction of autos that use electrical energy, as an alternative of fossil fuels, and whose manufacture requires the so-called transition minerals.
However Mexico is endeavor this initiative with out the Nationwide Electromobility Technique, prepared since 2018 however halted for “evaluation” by the setting ministry underneath the López Obrador administration after it took workplace in December of that 12 months.
Though some cities corresponding to Mexico Metropolis have launched electrical city transport autos, it’s not but a nationwide pattern. Furthermore, the power provide for these items nonetheless comes from fossil fuels.
Since 2016, the advertising of latest hybrid and electrical vehicles has elevated fivefold in Mexico, in response to the personal consulting agency TResearch Mexico. In 2021, these gross sales exceeded 39,000 items, representing 4 % of the full.
Through the Glasgow Local weather Summit in December, Mexico signed the Glasgow Settlement on Zero Emission Automobiles, signed by 37 nations, 46 metropolitan and regional governments, in addition to 11 automobile producers, 28 fleet house owners, 13 institutional buyers within the automotive sector, two monetary entities and 21 signatories from different segments, to remove the manufacturing of inside combustion autos between 2035 and 2040.
In January, fossil fuel-based era in Mexico accounted for 76 % of the full, adopted by wind power (seven %), hydroelectric (6.67 %), photo voltaic (4.4 %), nuclear power (3.87 %), geothermal (1.55 %) and biomass (0.07 %), in response to knowledge from the non-governmental Observatory of the Vitality Transition in Mexico.
Olivera and Parga highlighted the considerations concerning the position of minerals within the power transition, each on the Mexican and world stage.
“They don’t seem to be essentially going to be sufficient to make the transition to 100% renewable, we have now to take it with a specific amount of moderation. However neither can we proceed burning fossil fuels left and proper,” stated Olivera.
In her view, “there should be advantages for the folks, with environmental and social controls, respect for the collective rights of peoples, mitigation measures for socio-environmental impacts and a fairer and extra equitable distribution of advantages.”
For his half, Parga recommended constructing a price chain in Mexico that results in the manufacturing of completed merchandise, corresponding to lithium batteries, and the participation of native communities in mining areas within the completely different phases of the manufacturing course of.
“Other than caring for the ecological steadiness, preserving the setting and the cultural setting of the folks and communities, it should additionally be sure that they get hold of an financial profit that permits them to lift their way of life,” he argued.
The dilemma revolves round inside combustion autos, whose financial, environmental and well being prices are excessive, and electrical autos, whose footprint can also be important.
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