Applying International Mining Standards to Mexico

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 13:01

Many mining providers that have started from scratch have built successful businesses by focusing their initial efforts on one big client. This strategy offers the opportunity to work closely with one company, get to know its needs, and adapt and build the business according to these needs. Once the business has a solid base, it can then be expanded to the wider market. “My father is the founder of Grupo Jomargo, and he was an employee at Peñoles until he decided to start a contracting company,” says José Martínez Flores, Operations Director at Grupo Jomargo, which provides exploration, design and construction services for underground mines. “Peñoles was our first client, and the first projects we did for them were small tunnels, with a size of 2x2m, or 2x2.5m.” The company went on to work with Luismin, which later became Goldcorp, working with the company as it started up the Tayoltita mine, one of its most important properties in the 1980s.

Grupo Jomargo subsequently began to expand by broadening its services portfolio and taking on new clients. Having been in business for 25 years, Grupo Jomargo now provides exploration services, equipment, people, administrative services, and construction services to large and small underground mining companies, and has worked with some of Canada’s main mining companies, such as Yamana Gold, Goldcorp, SilverCrest Mines, AuRico Gold, and Agnico Eagle. “We offer the initial services required to start mining operations, which can go from exploring to developing, and even exploiting the mine, constructing the plants, bringing in machinery and administrating the people extracting the ore,” explains Martínez Flores. Grupo Jomargo prides itself on its dedication to the highest international environmental standards, and has drawn on its experiences of working with Canadian companies to create solid safety and environmental procedures. “For example, while working with Agnico Eagle on its Pinos Altos project the client asked Grupo Jomargo to send its people to Canada to receive quality and safety training,” Martínez Flores explains. Safety standards in countries like Canada and the US were much higher than in Mexico, which has brought both benefits and challenges to Mexican service providers since companies from these countries are applying the same standards to their operations outside of Canada or the US. “We began providing our services based on these high quality and safety standards at Grupo Jomargo, seeing that there was a great demand for better quality equipment and innovative solutions,” says Martínez Flores. “This is a strategy that Grupo Jomargo has taken seriously, and the company now has 20 different programs for safety, ranging from explosives safety and underground safety to environmental safety. In the 25 years during which we have been operating, the company has not had a single fatality.” Grupo Jomargo is similarly committed to its environmental responsibilities, which is reflected by its environmental certification from Semarnat and its ISO 14001 system. This positions the company well to respond to the growing demand for mining suppliers that are committed to reducing their environmental impact to the absolute minimum. “Most companies are looking to get these kinds of certificates because they need environmental studies in order to obtain permits for mine exploitation. Our  people are accustomed to taking care of the environment and make sure not to discard pollutants in water or on land. We have also conducted reforestation programs with kiri trees, which grow quickly and help the environment by absorbing carbon. We want to grow as a company, while being ecologically friendly. This is the culture we are trying to create in our company,” says Martínez Flores.

When Martínez Flores started working for the family business he made technology his priority. “When I came into this company I focused on introducing new communication technologies. Many projects in Mexico lacked good communication, so we installed satellite and database systems. We were the second company in Mexico, after Peñoles, to have this kind of communication technology. It has helped us to integrate information, complete projects on time, and make us more competitive,” says Martínez Flores. Grupo Jomargo also uses a special enterprise resource planning (ERP) administrative system and databases in order to manage its maintenance processes. “The ERP system gives us a complete solution for administration; we take the data and interpret it to find the most adequate solutions. Companies in Mexico are not generally used to these kinds of processes, especially in the mining industry,” says Martínez Flores.