The state of Zacatecas is hoping its mining cluster can attract new companies to help address calls from workers’ unions for more and better jobs, said Jaime Lomelín, Corporate Director of Grupo Bal, at the Mexico Mining Forum 2017 on Wednesday, adding that education is a key plank in that effort.
“There is currently an excess of human capital in the state and we need to bring in more suppliers to create new jobs,” he told the audience at the Hotel Sheraton Maria Isabel.
The key to a successful mining cluster is ensuring the triple helix is working together: companies, government and academia. “It is of utter importance for the supply chain to participate in the cluster in order for it to be successful,” said Lomelín, who oversaw the establishment of the country’s first mining cluster, Clusmin.
Mexico is known for its automotive and aerospace clusters but Clusmin is gaining strength in Zacatecas. Clusters are an important asset to the Mexican economy and have spurred growth in various states. Mining is Zacatecas’ most important economic activity, representing more than 29 percent of the state’s GDP.
Clusmin’s human capital committee works to attract more suppliers into the state. “By strengthening ties between suppliers and clients, the quality of the services offered improves and productivity increases,” said Lomelín. As part of the triple helix, “the role of the government is to support the formation of companies and create industrial parks for suppliers to settle into.” The government of Zacatecas has created several new methods of funding suppliers to increase the attractiveness of the state, he added.
The Achilles’ heel of mining is maintenance,” said Lomelín, discussing the importance of training and the creation of university career paths in mining. “Suppliers and educational institutions must train human capital together,” he said. Clusmin is working with CONACYT and INDADEM to create programs to better understand the type of specialized jobs and career paths that are needed to increment the productivity of the Mexican mining industry.
“There are many mining areas that did not offer high-level education programs. For instance, metallurgical career plans did not exist in schools and we worked with local universities to create duel programs that would increase the quantity of skilled personnel needed for these jobs,” Lomelín said. These dual programs allow students to work with mining companies early in their career to give them first-hand experience for when they graduate.
“The purpose of this cluster is to boost productivity and we have all the players needed to complete the triple helix,” he added.