Mexican environment protection agency issues NOM 120 policiy to regulate mining exploration
ALBERTO AZCARATE VARELA
THE BAJA POST/NEWSROOM
Guaranteeing environmental protection in direct mining exploration activities in agricultural, livestock or wasteland areas is the main objective of the Official Mexican Standard NOM-120-SEMARNAT-2020, issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, published in the Official Gazette of the Federation also considers the care that should prevail in this activity in areas with dry and temperate climates where vegetation of xerophilous scrub, tropical deciduous forest, coniferous forests or oaks develops.
Mining exploration is the first phase of any development of mineral resources and is an activity that can occur over the same area several times, as technological advances allow for mineral extraction, and the provisions of this standard will be applicable to exploration projects. Direct mining that is carried out in the aforementioned areas, except for exploration for radioactive minerals and those that intend to be located in protected natural areas and in sites under some conservation cartography.
Dependencies and institutions such as the Mexican Academy of Environmental Impact, the Mexican Mining Chamber, the Sonora Miners Association, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Economy and the Semarnat participated in its preparation. , among others.
The person responsible for the exploration project must make a supervision program to appoint the technical manager at the project site, detect critical aspects from an environmental point of view and make decisions, define strategies or modify harmful activities.
If radioactive minerals are detected, the Ministry of Energy must be notified in writing according to the corresponding regulations and if there are latrines or septic tanks, there must be a minimum distance of 30 meters between them and the wells, ditches, tunnels and exploration holes.
The material removed by the activities must be deposited in sites selected for this purpose by the person in charge of the project; while the species of flora and fauna classified in the lists of NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010 that are located in the explored area, must be protected through conservation and recovery projects as established by the General Law of Wildlife.
Finally, upon completion of the direct mining exploration project and preparing for the abandonment of the area, a restoration program must be carried out to ensure the stabilization of slopes, filling of exploration wells and trenches, disabling and closing of new roads and sealing of drill holes, as well as revegetation and forest restoration.
This NOM will come into force 60 calendar days after its publication in the DOF (November 11, 2020) and will render null and void NOM-120-SEMARNAT-2011, which establishes the environmental protection specifications for direct mining exploration activities.