Mining is a notoriously high consumer of water, but is the label always justified? In Mexico, the Mexican Mining Chamber (CAMIMEX) says no. According to CAMIMEX, the Mexican mining industry accounts for less than 1% of the countries water usage. This figure is corroborated by the national water commission (CONAGUA) who is responsible for the monitoring of water use in Mexico. Water use is regulated by the granting of water concessions which generates income for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and CONAGUA. While mining uses less than 1% of the country’s water, over 50% of the governments income generated by water concessions is paid by the mining industry. This is due to the fact that mines pay more for water than the national average and operate in areas in the north that are drought stricken where water is more expensive, but the main explanation is that the agricultural and livestock industries, which accounted for 76.7% of water use in Mexico, are not required to apply for water concessions at all.
According to CAMIMEX, these excessive costs borne by the mining industry has resulted in the mining industry becoming one of the most water efficient industries in Mexico. IN recent years Mexico’s mining recruitment extended its reach to recruit specialists in closed water circuits and new technology to minimise leaks and wastage. Despite this, water use in mining is still an issue as mines operate in arid regions and do effect the water available for local community use in rural areas. The comments of the Mexican president describing mines as excessive water consumers and water concession abusers are almost certainly uncalled for. The president has gone as far as to say that this misuse of water is the reason no mining concessions have been granted in the four years he has been in power.
The lack of new mining concessions and the excessive cost of water to the Mexican mining industry have contributed to Mexico mining becoming less competitive on an international scale.
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