Echoing the plan stated by the Undersecretary of Mining at Mexico Mining Forum 2019 at the Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel in Mexico City, Napoleón Gómez, Senator and President of the Congress’ Work and Social Provision Commission, highlighted the importance of a social approach in mining operations and the role of human capital in boosting efficiency and productivity.

“To this day, all government offices tout growth in the mining sector, as well as the new technologies being implemented to boost efficiency. However, very few mention the role of human capital in this process. Human capital is the most important asset of any company,” said Gómez during the closing presentation of the forum.

According to Gómez, the country must integrate innovation and human development strategies to boost social development, not only because of social justice but to boost demand and purchasing power. To do this, however, the country needs a new corporate culture more in line with social and environmental issues. Gómez highlighted security as one of the main national issues that could be addressed through mining development. “Mines are normally located in remote areas with limited access to economic activities,” he said. “If workers are deprived of the opportunity to participate in mining activities, they tend to turn to criminality.”

There is political will to help the mining sector grow but this must be done with a social approach, based on education, human capital development and environmental sustainability. “In many industries, client is king. However, we should make human capital the main focus of our operations,” he said. “By doing this, we will see a result in productivity and the image of the company.” Gómez also put countries like Finland and Chile as examples of how a social approach can make Mexico a leader in welfare and mining productivity.

Safety and security are also key topics for legislators according to the Senator, especially considering the working conditions in this industry. “Mining has always been the most dangerous activity in the national economy, which is why it is imperative to reduce risks and improve safety and hygiene standards in the industry,” said Gómez.

The topic is already on the government agenda, as well as the potential risk that growing automation and Industry 4.0 could pose to human labor. According to Gómez, the global automation rate will increase from 33 percent to 75 percent in the next fie years, leaving 47 percent of all workers in North America at risk of losing their job. He is positive about the industry’s future, though, saying “there is no technology or artificial intelligence that could replace the human workforce in its entirety to this day.”

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