Claudia Márquez
Chemours Company
View from the Top

Chemical Solutions for a Responsible Industry

Sun, 03/08/2020 - 05:00

Q: What characteristics position Chemours as the leading company in the security and safety segments?
A: The company’s philosophy does not rely on providing a product, but rather a service to our clients. Hence, our focus is on training our people. In so doing, we achieve the required level of experience to make a difference in mining operations. Mexico is the world’s largest silver producer and the eighth-largest gold producer, making it a strategic country in our portfolio. We take this seriously and it is why we deliver annual trainings on concrete cases. This year, we delivered our 12th emergency response training with sodium cyanide. We invited operators and brigades from the main mines in Mexico, who are our customers and we executed real-life simulations. The goal is for them to be better prepared in case of an emergency. The safety teams and doctors of our customers also participate and it is a very enriching experience because they get to work outside their comfort zones by operating in other mines.
There is a public misconception regarding mining so we need to do more around communication. Having a presence in communities is also important because it helps us understand their concerns around safety issues. When handled under the right safety conditions, sodium cyanide does not poses a threat to users. The entrant administration is working together with the industry to change the perception of mining and highlight it importance and benefits to the economy and industries. Every player is focused on executing sustainable mining operations and Chemours can add much value in this regard. We produce responsible chemistry, were founding partners of the “International Cyanide Management Code for the Manufacture, Transport, and Use of Cyanide in the Production of Gold” (Cyanide Code) which is a voluntary industry program for gold and silver mining companies. It focuses exclusively on the safe management of cyanide and cyanidation mill tailings and leach solutions. Together with the Deputy Ministry of Mines in Mexico, we supported the development of the safety and environmental framework that will rule sodium cyanide operations at the national level.
Q: How do you foresee the development of the mining industry in the coming years and how will this impact your operations?
A: Mining companies establish annual budgets based on mineral price forecasts. As Chemours works under medium and long-term supply contracts, we know many industry upturns and downturns can take place due to volatility. In 2019, we saw many changes in demand given the market behavior and even though gold prices have increased, we have not identified a relevant response on the supply side. In the rest of Latin America, many mines are trying to close 2019 with higher levels of production, but this is not the Mexican case as companies are still waiting to take further steps given the change in administration. On the other hand, supply and demand for sodium cyanide will soon overlap. Looking at projections, mines are facing bigger challenges as time passes by. It is getting more difficult to open a new mine, so companies are deciding to continue operating in existing assets. In these cases, more cyanide is required to extract the mineral. This is taking place not only in Mexico, but at a global level. Nevertheless, 2019 has been an atypical year in the country and we do not expect this behavior will change in the next two years.
Q: What are Chemours top objectives for 2020?
A: Our growth in Mexico will go hand in hand with the inauguration of our new sodium cyanide plant. It will be located in Durango and installed capacity will be 65 thousand tons. We are the element of the experience in Mexico, we are leaders in this segment with a 55 percent share. Nevertheless, the capacity of this plant will substitute the country’s total imports. We wanted to have this product available as close as possible to mine sites so this project liberates some capacity from our Memphis plant, which will allow us to enter other markets. Even though we are very focused on the Americas, this plant also gives us the possibility to keep betting on Mexico in case demand grows. Now, construction permits have been approved, however, before continuing we are working very hard with the communities near the plant to make sure they know and understand our project, as well as addressing their concerns. We expect the plant to become operational between 2020 and 2021. In terms of employment, the facility will create 350 direct and indirect new jobs, and even if most of it is automated, many hands will be required to work in the service and logistic areas.
Q: How is the company implementing gender equality policies in an industry traditionally dominated by men?
A: We have a gender equality strategy to achieve by 2030. One of our Corporate Responsibility Commitments is to have 50 percent of all positions globally filled with women. At Chemours, we encourage diversity and opportunities for all, an important step toward equality is to invest in youth to make STEM roles attractive to them, independent of gender. Companies always require people who generate results, whether that person is a woman or a man but a diverse workforce boost the innovation and more productivity. Nevertheless, the number of women studying these careers is less than the number of men. Our challenge is to invest in this talent pool by developing company policies that are attractive to women by addressing their needs. Many of the programs we are working with are being implemented at the secondary-school level to support the deployment of STEM careers among young girls.