US company rejects Mexico government offer to buy its property amid environmental dispute News
Carol M. Highsmith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
US company rejects Mexico government offer to buy its property amid environmental dispute

The US construction company Vulcan Materials stated on Monday that it refused the Mexican government’s offer to purchase its quarrying site located in Mexico’s Caribbean coastal state of Quintana Roo, local media reported.

The company asserted that it will not give up years of investment and work for  “a nominal value that is far from reality and unilaterally imposed by the government of Mexico.”

Vulcan Materials is a US-based company specializing in the production of construction materials. It has a unit called Calica in Mexico with concessions in Quintana Roo where it extracts limestone and ships it to the US to be used in construction.

The company’s rejection comes as a response to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s proposal last July to buy the company’s Caribbean coast property for $385 million over alleged damages to the nearby system of underground caves and rivers caused by the company’s activity. However, Vulcan Materials denied the Mexican government’s allegations and described them as “false accusations.” It further specified that it has been producing materials that are essential for the maintenance and construction of infrastructure such as airports, highways, and streets for 40 years in conformity with both international and local standards. Furthermore, the US company clarified that it had never received an official offer to buy the land and referred to the Mexican president’s proposal as an “informal appraisal” that underestimates the company’s assets.

The Mexican government’s offer to buy the construction company’s property was initiated by President Obrador as an attempt to end a year-long conflict between Vulcan Materials and the Mexican government over the latter’s decision to halt the company’s quarrying activity in Quintana Roo. In March 2022, Mexican authorities shut down Vulcan Materials’ limestone site, including port facilities used for shipping operations and accused the company of extracting and exporting limestone without legal permits. On top of that, a Mexican cement company called Cemex, aided by police and military, entered Vulcan Materials’ port facilities and used it to unload cargo.

Vulcan Materials filed a case against the Mexican government before an international arbitration panel through which it claimed $1.9 billion as compensation for violation of the Mexico-United States-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). The construction company referred to the shutdown decision as an “illegal occupation of Vulcan’s property” and highlighted that it owns four parcels of property that constitute its Mexico operation, including a shipping port. The company also added that it had bought the property in 1980 when it was limestone reserve land but, thanks to its activity and investment, now includes a deep-draft port, maritime infrastructure, freshwater lakes in addition to reforested vegetation.

Vulcan Materials also alleged in its statement that the Mexican government claims to be concerned over the ecological impact of the mining activity while it has been seeking to purchase the company’s property in order to convert it into a “protected natural area” to be used for tourism, cruise ship operations and naval activities.

Although it asserted that it would not accept the “illegal expropriation of its investments” in Mexico, Vulcan Materials stated that it remains open to negotiating a peaceful solution with the Mexican government.