Rafael Villagómez
Director General
View from the Top

Commitment to Quality in Mine Development

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 12:58

Q: Cominvi was founded 10 years ago, what led to your decision to establish the company?

A: Shortly after my grandfather started managing the El Cubo mine he asked me to start providing services to the mine, and given the business potential we decided to start a company with just 12 people. In 2005 my grandfather decided to sell the mine to Metales Interamericanos, a subsidiary of Gammon Lake, and the company quickly realized the quality of the work we were doing as a mining construction company, as well as the competitive prices that we offered. This opened up an opportunity for Cominvi to start working on the Ocampo mine - a project that triggered the expansion of the company’s reach, now serving not only national but also international mining companies.

Q: What have been the critical success factors in the growth of your company during this time?

A: The key to being successful is doing the right thing, and Cominvi stands out for the development work that it does, from engineering to construction, that helps our clients to reach their goals in the safest and most economical way. In Mexico Cominvi is recognized as a young company that is taking care of its people and acquiring new equipment for each new project. In the early 1990s companies were not as clever with their investments – they would buy old equipment and put it to work, and they would be surprised when it would break after three or four days. This was clearly an opportunity to do a better job with more reliable equipment. From the beginning we invested in new equipment, sometimes buying equipment such as jumbos and scooptrams before we had a project to use them on. Working with companies like Sandvik and Atlas Copco has also helped in our success. In addition to our development work, we are also offering production services to Goldcorp, Peñoles, Endeavour Silver and First Majestic.

Q: Which companies have you worked with and what has been the most challenging project?

A: We worked with Gammon Lake, Trafigura, Vane Minerals, Coeur d’Alene, Genco Resources, Minera Frisco, First Majestic, Peñoles, Fresnillo, Yamana Gold, Goldcorp, Great Panther and Endeavour Silver. All of our clients and projects have been relevant for our business.

Q: How do you make sure that your company attracts and retains the best people?

A: Our company’s slogan is “our strength is our people”. We have one of the lowest rotation rates in the industry, and we attribute this to the fact that everyone is treated equally and is respected. People who in the past wanted to work for the older, larger Mexican companies like Peñoles or Grupo Mexico are now turning to us. The money is almost an added bonus – more than anything we want to create a working environment where our team members feel that they are part of the family. In addition, Cominvi always tries to hire people from the areas we work in. Particularly in the areas of administration and services we hire people locally; warehouse workers, secretaries and drivers, for example. Depending on the location of the mine we also try to acquire lodging or catering services locally.

Q: How do you respond to the industry’s constant risks?

A: We have worked with companies such as Goldcorp, Yamana Gold and Peñoles that have very high safety standards, which have become our own standards. Whether we are talking about maintenance or operations, our health and safety department is operating independently, so the safety manager visits all of the projects, applying best practices, and has the right to stop work if any risk is identified. We have also created the ‘Delta Team’, which is made up of 30 experienced multi-disciplinary experts who start every project up, taking care of the operations, safety, and maintenance. The most recent delta project we started up was in Oaxaca for Don David Gold. At the end of last year we also created a quality department. We now have one industrial engineer on each project who is not involved in the operations but monitors standards and productivity, looking for ways to enable the team to do more with less.

Q: What are your main ambitions and how will the company succeed in growing despite the industry slowdown?

A: We know our growth in Mexico is secured with the civil engineering and exploration services we have begun offering. We also want to move into Central and South America because many of our clients already have operations there. We will grow step by step, without losing our identity or stopping paying attention to current projects.