Canada signed an MOU on the sustainable development of mineral resources during a trade mission to Mexico in late January. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy agreed upon several key points including the development of clean mining technology, more direct engagement with indigenous communities, corporate social responsibility, and issues pertaining to broader competitiveness in global markets.

“Among other benefits, we believe that the work and collaboration through this MOU will have a positive impact on Canadian exploration and mining companies operating in Mexico by facilitating trade and market access,” said Jocelyn Argibay, a spokesperson for NRCan. She added that the next step would be to develop a work plan under which the countries could share case studies and expertise in water management, energy efficiency, mine closure and community monitoring.

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr said in a call with media that while there remained many challenges to bilateral mineral trade, including security, land access and taxation, both countries shared a desire to create middle class jobs.

Last July, Primero Mining asked the government of Canada to intervene in a dispute with Mexico in which it claimed authorities were improperly collecting taxes on the sale of its silver.

More than 36,000 Canadian companies currently operate in Mexico, and mining firms account for 70 per cent of foreign direct investment in the country, largely thanks to bilateral benefits guaranteed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The trade mission came as United States President Donald Trump called for NAFTA renegotiations with Mexico, and for “tweaks” to Canada’s terms. “For Canada to have been there at this time, and looking to deepen its relationship with Mexico, was very welcomed by the Mexican government,” said Mining Association of Canada CEO Pierre Gratton, who was part of the delegation. “The timing couldn’t have been better, though it was coincidental.”