Mexico’s government is taking measures to safeguard the mining industry there. The government recently announced a new police unit to guard the country’s mining operations.
The force will consist of 118 officers of the Federal Protection Service (SPF). They will be stationed at at the Herradura mine in Sonora, a state in northern Mexico.
The Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, Alfonso Durazo Montaño said, “Today concludes a pioneering and highly relevant course in the increasingly broad profile in the training of the members of the Federal Protection Service, an institution that, in this administration, has gained great relevance on the subject of security.” He made these comments a few days ago, at the closing ceremony of the specialisation course on Safety in Mining Facilities.
He added that “the SPF has highly trained police officers who will now also join (in) the care of the mining sector. We know that the security of these facilities is delicate and requires specialization. In coordination with the Ministry of Economy and the industrial chambers, specialized strategies have been created for the mining regions.”
Mining has always been a fraught business in Mexico. Fresnillo, one of the world’s biggest silver producers acknowledges the threat. It says, “Crime and violence, much of it fuelled by drug cartels, affect many parts of the country. Federal police and armed forces have increased their enforcement activities, as have private citizen groups. While organised criminal networks are now on the defensive, the security situation in Mexico remains an issue. The group has enhanced security measures at all facilities and is taking additional precautions to safeguard its personnel, who are the top priority.”
Mining companies in the country have been vulnerable to attacks in the past and have taken a host of measures to protect themselves. Not without good reason.
Earlier this year, a dramatic heist unfolded at Minas de Oro Nacional, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm Alamos Gold. Local media reported that assailants overpowered local security personnel to steal gold and take to the skies in a Cessna plane.
Back in 2015, in a gang-related incident, almost 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of gold-silver bars were stolen. The crime occurred near Fresnillo’s Herradura mine, now home to the SPF’s first mining police squad.
Pan America Silver Corp, is a Canadian mining company and has also been at the receiving end of criminal activity. The company reported, “In May 2018, an increase in criminal activity and security incidents along the access roads to the Dolores mine in Mexico led us to suspend the transportation of mine personnel and materials to and from the mine. As our primary concern is the safety of our workers, we temporarily curtailed certain mining activities.”
The importance of mining in Mexico can’t be understated. It is an industry that generates substantial employment in the country. According to statistics presented by ITA, mining is responsible for over 379,000 direct jobs. It also generates almost 2 million indirect jobs. It brings in USD 12.69 billion to the economy and is responsible for 2.5 per cent of the national GDP.
(Inputs from Krishika Sata)