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A Comparative Study of the Mineral, Oil, and Gas Laws of the United States and Mexico

Victor H. Verity, Proceedings of 6th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1961)


The comparisons in this paper pertain to the federal mining laws of Mexico and the United States, a study made for the purpose of ascertaining to what extent the mining law of the United States might benefit by the adoption of certain features of the Mexican law. Detail is limited to those aspects in which the greatest need exists for improvement of United States legislation.


Mexican mineral law had its origin in the laws of Spain, which automatically became the governing law of New Spain of which Mexico was the most important colony. As early as 1526, Spanish mining law contained some provisions specifically applicable to New Spain. The first mining law drafted expressly for New Spain was issued by order of the King of Spain in 1783 and promulgated in Mexico in 1784. This law, which had a long title but for brevity is known as the Ordenanzas,1 controlled Mexico's mining industry for a hundred years. Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 but the Ordenanzas remained in effect until 1884 when a new mining code was [436] adopted, to be followed by others in 1884, 1892, 1909, and 1926.2 The mining law now in force was enacted in substantially its present form in 1930.3 More than 400 years of intensive exploration and exploitation of mineral substances constitute the background of experience from which this law evolved.