Luiz Camargo
Country Head
Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán
/
Expert Contributor

Best Practices Demonstrate Mining’s Good Intentions

By Luiz Camargo | Thu, 04/21/2022 - 16:00

For decades, the mining industry in Mexico and the world has been moving toward better sustainable practices. We understand sustainability as the ability to manage and take advantage of resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the resources or the capacity of future generations, thus guaranteeing the balance among the economy, care for the environment and social well-being.

In line with this thought, mining has adopted best practices in different areas of work. We can start by highlighting, first, a greater use of digitized equipment and tools to conduct mineral exploration and extraction activities in safer conditions and in harmony with their surroundings.

Likewise, we have seen the gradual implementation of stricter and more technologically advanced measures, protocols, and safety mechanisms, which has allowed us to reduce the accident frequency rate and keep it below the national average. Among the mining-metallurgical companies affiliated within the Mexican Mining Chamber (Camimex), the incidence rate in 2020 was 1.01 accidents per 100 workers, while the national average is 1.41.

These positive results continue to motivate us every day to take the necessary actions to reach the goal of zero incidents and accidents and to continue making the industry one of the safest in the country.

Similarly, the mining industry for years has shown greater responsibility toward the environment. Different mining units use closed cycle systems that avoid discharges and allow for water to be reused. Likewise, we have seen more use of treated water in mining processes, as well as a greater periodicity in soil, water, and air monitoring.

In addition, we must not forget that, out of conviction, but also by legal obligation, the mining sector conducts permanent reforestation programs. In recent years, the sector has planted more than 6 million trees in Mexico (according to the latest Camimex annual report), helping mitigate the impact of its different mining activities across the country.

Whoever thinks that the mining-metallurgical industry isn’t regulated is seriously mistaken. According to Camimex, the sector must comply with 4,699 laws, regulations, codes, and Official Mexican Standards to conduct its activity in Mexican territory.

These examples of sustainability should be framed within a work model based on five axes to guarantee a better execution of this philosophy:

  1. Communities - because companies know that when they arrive in a community, they must insert themselves and adapt to its traditions, uses and customs. They also need to generate a relationship of respect, solidarity and collaboration for the common good.
  2. Environment - because it is essential to have good business management to bet on the sustainable development and comprehensive care of our environment.
  3. Health and Safety - because a company is not only the infrastructure, the land, or the product that it extracts. Companies are also the people and their physical and mental integrity.
  4. Ethics - because not tolerating dishonest acts and strictly following policies and good practices represent the key to achieving extraordinary and genuine leadership that leads to the fifth point.
  5. Efficiency - understood as the set of outstanding practices in business management and the achievement of results through a virtuous circle in which sustainability is attainable.

Each of these axes has been of vital importance for the company I lead. This has led us to consolidate Cuzcatlan as one of the most important silver producing companies in Mexico and a prosperous source of employment and shared development in the Central Valley of Oaxaca.

Nevertheless, the image of mining from the beginning of the last century still prevails. Today this activity, which offers almost 400,000 stable and well-paid jobs in Mexico and more than 2,000 direct jobs in the Central Valley of Oaxaca, faces the challenge of continuing to consolidate a positive perception of its social, environmental, and labor elements.

Only united, honest, disciplined, and sustainable work between the public sector, private initiative and society will allow mining to remain positioned as one of the most important economic activities in Mexico. Today, mining generates taxes, jobs, and better living conditions in the communities where it conducts its activities. Let us continue promoting and supporting the good that mining generates, including well-being and sustainability.

In my 16 years of working in Mexico, and especially the last three years, I have seen the accelerated evolution of the mining sector to operate under ambitious standards of sustainability, integrating communities, promoting respect for the environment and properly accepting and interpreting the uses and customs of the populations where they work. This is necessary to maximize the available resources of the valuable human capital where it operates.

Photo by:   Luiz Camargo