The success of any business lies on the strength of its supply chain, and mines are no different. The mining industry’s value chain is a key area of opportunity for Mexican companies and none more so than operators who are the top stakeholders. During Mexico Mining Forum 2019, which took place in the Sheraton Maria Isabel on Feb. 6, panelists discussed the importance of creating stronger alliances throughout not only the supply chain, but also with government and educational institutions to truly foster the growth of the Mexican mining industry.
During the event, Hector Quezada, Director Mexico of Victaulic, led the discussion of the panel that discussed strengthening Mexico’s supply chain to understand the importance of technology, education and innovation in the mining supply chain and the role clusters are playing.
Although the clusters are rather young, the Zacatecas, Sonora and Guerrero Mining Clusters are working arduously to professionalize SMEs and promote the use of technology to boost the efficiency of the sector, the participants agreed. “Clusters play a vital role in the mining sector and in the last few years we have focused greatly in the evolution of local companies and assisting them to professionalize their processes with the help of educational institutions,” said Alberto Mendoza, Director of Zacatecas Mining Cluster.
As for the Sonora Mining Cluster, its main focus has been sustainability. It is currently the only mining association that is certified in Social Responsibility, striving to take down barriers between local communities and miners. Alberto Orozco, President of the Sonora Mining Cluster, discussed how the cluster is identifying indicators that will help find areas of opportunity within the supply chain and monitor how companies are flourishing and how to help them grow even faster.
The Guerrero Mining Cluster is the youngest cluster in Mexico. “The state’s situation is far more complex due to the insecurity problems that exist. Our main goal is to help protect investments and help them grow,” said Alfredo Philips, President of the Guerrero Mining Cluster. The vast majority of the companies in Guerrero are small and have only one asset in operation. Professionalization is a priority for the cluster, but the state’s unique situation makes transparency extremely important in order to not only attract more investment, but to retain it.
Integrating new technologies is a great challenge for Mexican mining companies and requires a great deal of training. Each cluster is approaching universities and research centers to create more learning and training opportunities for miners. The Zacatecas Mining Cluster is currently developing a research and science center to help companies bridge their technology gap. Guerrero is working toward creating specialized programs to help increase local companies’ skills.
All clusters agreed that exploration activity has declined in the last few years and this is beginning to pose an important challenge for the industry. Orozco explained that Sonora experienced a boom in 2012 where it created great value, new mines opened and renewed operations. Nevertheless, many are reaching the end of their life cycle and have yet to generated new reserves. “We need to place a bet on exploration to continue generating jobs,” said Orozco.
All panelists agreed that 2019 will be a year of collaboration, where the mining clusters will all prosper together. “But it will not be the same alliances and collaboration as before. More players will be involved, including NGOs, mayors, municipal presidents and educational institutions,” said Phillips.
This also involves a closer relationship with communities. Orozco insisted that companies will have to step out of the box to not only integrate technology and innovation, but to integrate communities in order to be truly sustainable. “The community aspect needs to be done correctly from the very start or else it will continue creating setbacks in the life cycle of a project. Everybody in the chain must be aware of the social and sustainable implications their operations have,” said Orozco.