By Raul Cortes
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican Senate approved in an express session on Saturday a package of laws including two constitutional reforms and a new mining law rebuked by the mining chamber and Canada.
Representatives of the president’s Morena party and its allies, nearly unanimously and with little debate, approved the laws in a fast-tracked process without opposition legislators present. Legislators convened outside the chamber’s usual voting location after the opposition occupied the chamber to try to prevent the session.
The two constitutional reforms approved by the Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning involve lowering the age to be a legislator and secretary of state to 18 from 21 and prohibiting perpetrators of gender violence from participating in elections.
The mining law shortens concessions in the mining sector to 30 years from 50, tightens water extraction permits, and requires some mining profits to be returned to local communities, among other modifications. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promoted the initiative but had originally proposed reducing concessions to 15 years.
Lopez Obrador has not granted any new mining concessions since he took office in the world’s top silver-producing country in late 2018. He has argued that too many permits were granted by previous governments to extract the country’s resources, which include gold and copper.
The Canadian Ministry of Commerce expressed its concern this week that the new mining legislation could affect Canadian investment in Mexico’s mining industry, where multiple Canadian companies operate.
The national mining chamber Camimex has warned such reforms could cost the country some $9 billion (E162 billion) in investments and up to 420,000 jobs.
Mining giant Grupo México said on Thursday that the government’s reforms to the sector did not represent a risk to its portfolio.