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Efraí­n Alva Niño

MEXICO - Energy & Mining

Efraí­n Alva Niño

Head of Extractive Activities Coordination Unit, Secretariat of Economy


Efraí­n Alva Niño holds a master’s degree in geological sciences, rock mechanics, and sedimentology. His working areas are geological exploitation of non-metallic minerals, evaluation, interpretation of deposits, environmental geology, and hydrogeology. He is currently the Head of the Extractive Activities Coordination Unit and was previously a research professor and foreign exploration geologist. He has participated as director of at least 10 undergraduate theses as well as co-director of another eight undergraduate theses.

The Extractive Activities Coordination Unit is working to foster a collaborative relationship with the private sector and establish the right rules and regulations so that everyone benefits in the end.

What is your view as the new head of Extractive Activities Coordination Unit?

What I encounter is a mining sector that is concerned about its future and is eager to work and show that mining is, in fact, something that has always been misunderstood. We have been working with the Mining Chamber of Mexico (Camimex), and we have spoken with people from the Association of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists, and Geologists of Mexico. We are looking to team up in order to achieve this change of image and show society that mining is sustainable, responsible, and—in return—committed to society and the environment. We are seeking to find mechanisms that will allow us to resolve everything that is at a standstill. We count on the full support of Tatiana Clouthier, head of the Secretariat of Economy of Mexico, who is interested in ensuring that this sector makes the right progress.

What was the transition from managing from the undersecretary like?

With the new government guidelines, my role is that of unit coordinator, which consists of offering some freedom to the director of mining, the director of mining development, and the director of geological service, and, as a head of the Unit, coordinate all the work and proposals. They are experts. There will not be any conflicts here. I cannot do that, precisely because I have just joined this position. First, I must get to know their activities, work history, and method and try to align it with the needs of the federal government through the Ministry of Economy.

How will you collaborate with the private sector and establish a healthy relationship?

We are using and making the most of events such as this interview. The doors have always been open. Individuals now come to introduce themselves. The objective is to introduce myself and let them get to know me. We want them to become familiar with the new alignments. First, we must get to know the status of the situation. From there, we will be able to establish the appropriate policies that do not harm the mining sector, which is already sufficiently burdened with tax issues, for example. We have to find a way to relieve them and subsequently attract investment and boost the mining sector to be up and running again.

What could be done, apart from support via taxes, to attract greater investment to the mining sector in Mexico and make it more competitive at a global level?

We can provide security to investors. Despite the perception that mining is aggressive in nature, the sector is one of those with the highest tax burdens. There is a belief that they have always been exploited and robbed. This must be cleared up with numbers. If we look at the numbers, we can see just how much is being paid to workers. This is something I can vouch for. Studies on salaries are extremely positive. The level of employee turnover in mining is extremely low compared to other sectors. People working in mining normally stay at least five years, so turnover is not high. When I worked in the coal mine, we had three bonuses that amounted to about USD1,045 plus salary. I used to tell workers that the mine encourages you to save money. If I get USD1, the mine puts in USD1 into saving funds, major medical expenses, and so on. In these meetings, I have sought to make them see just this. There is still a belief that the sector comes in, makes a mess, and then just leaves. This is not true. Our commitment is to leave the site as intact as possible. We would like it to be understood that we are here to work together, and that the doors of our office will always be open for any suggestion and any request.



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