MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Senate has approved sweeping reforms to the law governing mining, including a requirement for companies to pay 5% of their profits to the local community.
The mining bill was one of 18 bills, some of which were controversial, passed in a frenzy late Friday and early Saturday morning.
The bill was approved with little to no controversy, based only on votes by senators from the Morena Party, led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and their supporters. Senator Morena and allies met in a separate chamber as the opposition occupied the Senate’s regular headquarters to protest the lack of debate.
The new mining law cuts the maximum duration of concessions from 50 to 30 years and punishes speculation by allowing authorities to revoke concessions if no work is done within two years.
The mining industry, much of which is foreign and to a large extent Canadian, has drawn complaints due to environmental damage, speculation, and the fact that the communities around the mines remain among the poorest in Mexico.
Many companies, especially smaller “miner” companies listed on Canadian exchanges, have done exploratory work, deduced the existence of minerals, then done nothing and sold mining rights to larger players. waiting to be Many of the properties contain deposits of gold or silver.
Large Mexican companies dominate the mining of copper and other metals.
The Senate also approved a bill that would impose 10 to 15 years in prison on those who manufacture the synthetic opioid fentanyl in Mexico or provide precursor chemicals that are mostly imported from China. Apart from possession, the manufacture of narcotics becomes a separate crime.
Perhaps more controversially, senators approved a bill to replace the country’s science and technology committee, which provides research grants and other funding, and include representatives of the Army and Navy on the committee. .
The new framework also clearly indicates a preference for researchers from public universities over private ones.
Another bill would have given the military a dominant role in providing security for the country’s airspace and would also allow commercial airlines to operate. This represents a potential conflict, as the law prohibits airport operators from operating airlines.
Lopez Obrador greatly expanded the role of the military to everything from building projects to running companies.
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