By Gabriel Stargardter
MEXICO CITY, May 22 (Reuters) - Mexico sees total mining investment between 2013-2018 of at least $25 billion, holding steady or rising slightly from the previous six years despite the prospect of less favorable metals prices, Mexico's top government mining official told Reuters on Wednesday.
'We estimate total investment for the (president's) six year term could be above or around $25 billion or $26 billion,' Mario Cantu Suarez, Mexico's chief mining official, told Reuters at the BNAmericas Mexico mining summit.
Over the six-year term of former president Felipe Calderon, when metals prices saw an unprecedented boom thanks to top commodity buyer China, total investment reached $25 billion, with foreign companies accounting for 40 percent.
Driven by Chinese demand, commodity prices soared in recent years, and Mexico's mining income grew 134 percent between 2009-2011. Mining is now Mexico's fourth largest industry in dollar income, behind automobiles, oil and electronics, according to official data.
'We saw an impressive boom,' Cantu Suarez said.
He hoped that a national development plan recently unveiled by the government could spur investment and counter the drag of lower metals prices and a proposed 5 percent royalty scheme passed by Mexico's lower house of Congress.
Some foreign companies have said they will, or already have, decreased investment as a result of the proposed royalty.
'Where is the profitability?' Cantu Suarez said. 'Many mines stop operating when profits are insufficient.'
(Editing by Simon Gardner and Phil Berlowitz) Keywords: MEXICO MINING/
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