Armando Alatorre Campos
President
Colegio de Ingenieros de Minas, Metalurgistas y Geólogos de México, A.C. (CIMMGM)
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View from the Top

Closing the Gender Gap in the Mining Industry

By Andrea Villar | Fri, 06/05/2020 - 09:28

Q: How does the CIMMGM help miners obtain the knowledge and experience the industry needs?

A: There are many factors. The General Directorate of Professions in Mexico (DGP) is considering creating a new law that would include compulsory licensing. This means that all professionals in any field, in addition to obtaining their professional license to work, will be required to belong to a college. Every certain number of years, professionals will have to revalidate their professional certification to continue working in their field.

International certification is necessary for engineers and allows them to keep up to date in their careers and industries. In our case, it is important because we are lagging behind on that subject. What happens frequently is that many foreign companies come to Mexico looking for engineers to do certain types of work. The problem is that our engineers do not excel in certain activities because they are not certified. Our goal is to get engineers certified nationally and internationally.

In Mexico, most of the regulation for professionals in the mining industry is based on Instrument 43-101, which is a national instrument for the Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects within Canada. Currently, we are working for our QP to be recognized internationally and be considered on the same level as this instrument. We want it to be recognized as an equivalent system.

Q: How do mining companies benefit from having their engineers certified?

A: Companies save time because they no longer have to invest time or money in certifying their employees. They also avoid hiring people who do not know the industry or even a mine. In the long run, companies will save from the start of the hiring process. This is one of the steps that would take Mexico to the level of international standards.

It is also important to mention that we have not asked that Canada recognize us because it would be an endless circle and we would have to get the other mining countries to recognize us as well.

Q: How diverse is the mining workforce in Mexico?

A: The workforce in the mining industry is not very diverse. Today, the number of women in the industry is very low. When we talk about the majority of mining professionals, whether geologists, miners or metallurgists, historically, there have been very few women. Among CIMMGM members, only 9 percent are women.

However, there will be a drastic change in the industry in the next 10 years. For example, among my engineering students, 50 percent are women. In two years, these women will start working in the industry.

Q: How does having more women in the workforce benefit in the industry?

A: Companies look for results when they hire someone and at the end of the day, it does not matter if the good work was done by a woman or a man. There are areas where operators have seen advantages when hiring women. For example, it may be better to hire female truck drivers in the mines because they say that women do not arrive hungover to work. As far as engineers are concerned, both are hired. What matters is that companies hire people who will be accountable and provide the results we expect of them. Women today are willing to do fieldwork and go inside the mine. This did not happen 20 years ago.

Q: The industry wants to see more diversity than just professions related to CIMMGM. How do you tell your students about the importance of diversity?

A: I tell my students that when they least expect it, they may be working for the mining industry. A clear example is the wolf farm of Grupo México. The company hires veterinarians to prevent certain species from becoming extinct. So, we are changing the view people have about the mining industry and we do this to attract more people to the industry.

Colegio de Ingenieros de Minas, Metalurgistas y Geólogos de México, A.C. (CIMMGM) is a Mexican institution that seeks to update and train its members to remain competitive in the mining industry, nationally and internationally.

Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst