Mitigate and manage mining risks in Mexico by collaborating with local teams

March 19, 2024

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Security threats on mine sites can be challenging to curb without comprehensive risk assessments and safety control measures in place. Beyond endangering the safety of personnel on site, they threaten to bring a sudden halt to mining operations when left unmanaged, posing a risk to a mine’s profitability, reputation and favorability to investors. 

For mines currently operating in Mexico, understanding the highest security risks for the area of operations as well as surrounding localities is crucial. Cartel kidnappings, extortion and theft have been increasing in certain regions in the country. States in Mexico also have different risk profiles and as such, understanding the associated risks of each mining zone plays a big role in developing a plan to address them. For example, Sonora, one of Mexico’s biggest and most popular mining states may pose different risks than states where mining is less established.  

Security challenges for miners in Mexico in 2024 

The natural resources extracted on mines such as iron ore are often a target of criminal groups in Mexico as a tool for profit-making activities. Mining is also one of the top industries at risk of military-like defenses by cartels who are looking to protect their drug routes.  

Many cartels operate with extortion schemes in which miners are offered and pressured to accept services should they wish to operate in certain areas without incident. Should they refuse, miners are put at risk of illegal blockades and theft. For example, an American company with operations in Sinaloa state in Mexico, claimed to have been hit with an illegal blockade by an organized crime group after the company refused to hand over control of its ore and concentrate trucking contracts.  

Mitigate risk on mine sites through community engagement and understanding the local context 

There are various steps that international mining companies can take to better assess and mitigate these incidents from taking place at their mines operating in Mexico. 

Relationship building with local communities and leaders 

The importance of building relationships with local communities and leaders to fully understand the local context in Mexico is paramount. By identifying the biggest risks present in an area, mining companies can deploy the resources needed in security efforts more strategically. Well-established and public relationships with key leaders in these communities can also lessen the likelihood of being targeted by cartels. 

Develop a comprehensive risk strategy which accounts for the local context of a mine location 

While deploying security systems and personnel may seem like the only solution to combatting mining risks in Mexico, this must be done effectively according to the level of risk of the location. Risk management strategies for mining companies must account for safety threats, but also the potential financial losses and opportunity costs of security threats.  

By working with a local team who understands the highest risks in an area, and by engaging local communities more effectively, international companies operating remote mine sites in Mexico can ensure that risks are identified more quickly and mitigated for smoother operations and to minimize losses. 

At Unison Mining, we work with your teams to develop a risk assessment that factors in the local context of the region in which your mine operates. Our local teams work shoulder to shoulder with your teams on-site to develop a comprehensive risk management plan for secure mining operations. We install the KPIs and systems needed to foster behavioral transformation of employees at all organizational levels to achieve lasting and sustainable change.

Understand the local context for secure mining operations.

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