Mexico and coal

From Global Energy Monitor

Mexico is the twenty-seventh largest coal producer in the world, producing 10.5 million tonnes per annum.

Coal Resources

The USGS reported that the following distribution of reserves among Mexico’s main coal concession holders:[1]

  • Minera Carbonifera Rio Econdido S.A de C.V. (Micare) (affiliated with Grupo Acerero del Norte S.A. de C.V.), 53%
  • Materiales Industrializados S.A. de C.V. (MINSA), 38%
  • Grupo Mexico, 5%
  • Carbonifera de San Patricio S.A. de C.V., 4%.

Resource Details

Category Reserve Classification Quantity Units Data Year
BGR Estimate Reserves 1,211[2] million tonnes 2019
BGR Estimate Resources 3,000[2] million tonnes 2019
Geological Survey Reserves 1,305[3] million tonnes 2006
Geological Survey Resources - million tonnes 2007
Commercial Reserves Reserves million tonnes
Commercial Resources Resources million tonnes

Coal Production

Coal development in Mexico is concentrated in the northern state of Coahuila, which accounts for 99% of national production.[4][5] Mexico produced just over 11 million short tons of coal in 2019, ranking 23rd globally.[6]

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that Mexico produced 11.9 Mt of coal in 2007, which was an increase of 9% compared with production in 2006.[1] In 2008, Mexico produced 9589 kt of sub-bituminous coal. The same year Mexico imported 2696 kt of sub-bituminous coal.[7]

Coal Consumption

Mexico consumed nearly 21 million short tons of coal in 2019.[6]


Despite having its own domestic production, Mexico must still import coal to supply its three large coal-fired power plants: Carbon II, José López Portillo, and Petacalco.[4] Coal is mostly sourced from Australia, Colombia, Canada and the United States.[8]

Coal Plants

Coal-fired power stations financed by international public investment institutions include:[9]

Proposed new projects

A new US$1.2 billion, 1400 MW coal-fired power plant has been proposed for Coahuila state, though details remain sketchy.[10][11][12]

Coal exports

In April 2012 it was announced that Union Pacific was considering exporting coal through Port of Guaymas in northwest Mexico. It was reported that Union Pacific was working with Mexican railroad Ferromex on possibly moving coal through the Port of Guaymas, about 240 miles from the US border.[13]

Existing terminals

Government Policy

On April 19, 2012 the Mexican legislature passed one of the strongest national climate-change laws in the world. Mexico joined the United Kingdom in having legally binding emissions goals aimed at stemming the effects of climate change. Mexico's new law contains many sweeping provisions to mitigate climate change, including a mandate to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050.[14]

In 2020 Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has regularly prioritized domestic fossil fuels over renewable energy projects, announced a government plan to ramp up coal production in Coahuila state, purchasing 2 million tons from small producers to supply Mexico's power plants and bolster the local economy.[15][16]


Coal mining accidents

Hopes Fade for Trapped Mexican Miners.

Mine blast kills 6 miners

A blast at an artisanal coal mine in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, trapped 14 miners on May 3, 2011.

"There are 14 miners trapped plus one person injured" in the wake of the 7:00 a.m. blast, Jesus Maria Montemayor Garza told Radio Formula. Authorities have yet to make contact with the trapped men and rescue efforts remain on hold because the levels of methane gas are still almost triple the range considered safe, according to Montemayor.[17]

A day later on May 4, 2011 it was reported that of the 14 miners trapped, 6 were pronounced dead and 8 others were still missing.[18][19]

4 miners dead in cave-in at north Mexico coal mine

On August 26, 2011 four miners were killed in an explosion that caved in part of a coal mine in the northern Mexico border state of Coahuila. The Minerales de Monclova company, which operates the mine, stated the accident at its La Esmeralda Coal Mine was caused by methane gas that exploded. The company also states that 132 other workers escaped unharmed and the bodies of the dead miners were recovered.[20].

13 coal miners dead after explosion in northern Mexico

In July 2012 six miners were killed in a Northern Mexico mine and another seven where killed in a mine explosion in the same area. The accident, officials said, highlighted the country's lax safety conditions in small mines that are often poorly regulated. The explosion that took the lives of seven miners occurred 246 feet underground.[21][22]

32 Mexico coal mines shut down for safety violations

It was reported on August 10, 2012 that 32 small coal mines in the northern state of Coahuila were closed due to safety concerns. The action was prompted by a number of accidents in the preceding month in the region that took the lives of 13 miners.[23]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Alberto Alexander Perez, "The Mineral Industry of Mexico", U.S. Geological Survey, August 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 BGR Energy Study 2019 - Data and Developments in German and Global Energy Supplies (23), Hannover: Germany, 2019.
  3. Rodolfo Corona-Esquivel, Jordi Tritlla, María Elena Benavides-Muñoz, Noé Piedad-Sánchez, Geología, estructura y composición de los principales yacimientos de carbón mineral en México, Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana LVIII (1), 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Mexico's CFE to buy 360,000t of coal: Update". Argus Media. March 21, 2019.
  5. "Panorama Minero del Estado de Coahuila (p 11)" (PDF). Servicio Geológico Mexicano. December 2019.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named :1
  7. "Coal and Peat in Mexico in 2008" IEA Energy Statistics, accessed August 31, 2011.
  8. Badillo, Diego (June 13, 2020). "Central carboeléctrica de Petacalco: la bonanza hecha cenizas". El Economista.
  9. "Coal Fired Plants Financed by International Public Investment Institutions since 1994", Appendix A in Foreclosing the Future: Coal, Climate and International Public Finance: Investment in coal-fired power plants hinders the fight against global warming, Environmental Defense Fund, April 2009.
  10. "Nueva planta carboeléctrica en Coahuila aprobada en 2012". Energía Hoy. November 26, 2018.
  11. "Energías limpias, sofisma que usó la política neoliberal para beneficiar a particulares: AMLO". Animal Político. October 24, 2020.
  12. "México incumple acuerdos de París, advierten expertos". El Economista. December 28, 2020.
  13. "Union Pacific looks to Mexico as US coal demand falls: officials", April 19, 2012.
  14. "Mexico passes climate-change law" Erik Vance,, April 23, 2012.
  15. "El gobierno de México comprará toneladas de carbón para termoeléctricas". infobae. July 17, 2020.
  16. "Mexico was once a climate leader – now it's betting big on coal". The Guardian. February 15, 2021.
  17. "14 Trapped in blast at Mexican coal mine" Fox News Latino, May 3, 2011.
  18. "5 Dead, 9 Still Missing in Mexico Coal Mine Explosion" Voice of America, May 4, 2011.
  19. "Rescue crews recover 6th body from Mexico mine", May 5, 2011.
  20. "4 miners dead in cave-in at north Mexico coal mine" Associated Press, August 26, 2011
  21. "Seven coal miners dead after explosion in northern Mexico" Reuters, July 25, 2012.
  22. "6 Found Dead Inside Mexican Coal Mine" Fox News, August 4, 2012.
  23. "32 Mexico coal mines shuttered for safety reasons" Fox News, August 10, 2012.

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