Mexico Security Outlook

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By Raul Curmina

To succeed in mining, technology and efficiency are not enough. Mining companies in Mexico also need to be aware of the security risks that affect the industry and how to deal with them, says Jorge Tello-Peón, Director of Madison Intelligence Mexico.

The government may have a positive outlook on the country’s security situation, but the facts show a sharp increase in crimes such as extortion, murder, and cargo robbery. The current administration of President López Obrador has faced unprecedented levels of violence, with more than 180,000 homicides and conflicts between drug cartels.

Tello-Peón points out that the loss of credibility of institutions, as well as the actions and inactions of the government, have worsened the scenario. Moreover, criminal groups often have stronger bonds with communities, offering them employment, infrastructure, public services, and medicine, among other advantages. This has led some people to bypass the official authorities or negotiate with organized crime, putting their values, lives, and operations at risk in the long run. “Mexico’s security challenges are both serious and numerous, and they demand immediate and lasting solutions. The current security measures only treat the symptoms, but do not address the root causes,” says Tello-Peón.

According to CAMIMEX, criminal attacks on mining companies raise their operating costs by 10% to 20%. The chamber adds that the figure could be even higher, considering that mining companies have to spend a lot on training their staff and hiring more security personnel. Tello-Peón says that organized crime uses various methods of pressure, such as financial extortion and physical violence (threats and kidnappings). He also says that, during the 2024 elections, different crimes have emerged, such as violence against candidates, vote tampering, and organized crime influencing candidate selection.

Luis Vázquez, President of AIMMGM, reported that some companies have even resorted to paying off criminal gangs, resulting in a 3% increase in the final cost of minerals. Vázquez also said that states with a long mining tradition, such as Chihuahua, the State of Mexico, Guanajuato, Sonora, and Zacatecas, are among the states with the highest perception of insecurity.

Mining companies not only face the physical threats of crime, but also the growing risk of cyberattacks. In 2024, cybersecurity reappeared as a major concern for mining companies, ranking 8th on the list of challenges faced by companies for the first time since 2020. EY explains this comeback by the digitalization of the sector, the rise of remote work, and geopolitical tensions such as the Russian-Ukraine war. Mining leaders are increasingly worried about the protection of their intellectual property, a concern that is expected to grow with the rising investment in ESG initiatives.

In 2022, Guacamaya hackers launched a cyberattack that affected not only public institutions, but also mining, oil and gas companies. In 2024, Alamos Gold also suffered a cyberattack that exposed sensitive corporate data. In response to the changing situation, key companies such as Torex Gold have made cybersecurity a top corporate and operational priority, recognizing the urgent need for strong measures to defend against cyber threats.

Tello-Peón emphasizes the importance of having better strategies, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective.  Tello Peón advocates for strategic solutions, such as forming alliances with mining clusters and chambers, utilizing social intelligence, accessing reliable data, fostering collaboration with authorities like SEDENA, National Guard, and the government, implementing security prevention and reaction protocols, engaging in negotiation tables with authorities, and risk and crisis management strategies.

Source: Mexico Business