Communication, Technology Crucial for Exploration Decision-MakingBy Antonio Gozain | Wed, 01/26/2022 - 18:14
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Mexico has historically played a major role for the mining industry, given its growing geological potential. Despite diverse challenges impacting the sector, there are still enormous opportunities of exploration in the country that could be exploited by providing good relationships with communities, assertive communication, technology and supply chain cooperation, agree industry experts.
“Mexico remains our main focus. Although there have been successful mining stories for the past 500 years, there is still a big chance to explore the country. Mexico offers a skilled workforce, a developed supply chain and titles security - the country ranks very high worldwide. It is all about the size of the price, the cost of the test and the chance to success. Mexico attracts us in all these senses,” said Michael Konnert, CEO & Founder, Vizsla Silver.
Mexico has a long mining tradition and is the largest producer of silver in the world, besides being a top global player in gold, copper, zinc, among other minerals. The country has a favorable environment for the industry; however, the mining ecosystem has faced several challenges during the last few years, including the lack of concessions for exploration and legal uncertainty. Despite these difficulties, there are over 250 private exploration companies in the country, with operations concentrated mainly in Sonora, Zacatecas and Chihuahua.
“There is a cornucopia of mineral wealth in Mexico. It is not always easy to find the best locations, but the country has certainly a great geological potential, with major opportunities for discoveries,” said Ben Whiting, President and CEO, Orex Minerals.
Drilling companies play an important role in the Mexican mining industry as well, said Magda Orozco, Administration, Maza Drilling. “One of the most relevant factors is the level of knowledge that drilling companies have, in addition to high quality services for customers to feel comfortable. Also, giving a comprehensive service, focusing on sustainability is important.”
Exploration decision-making requires prior investigation. “It is very important to see metal prizes and market value and then locate the ideal places to explore. We must work with a sustainable mindset and developing technology to constantly improve our practices. Involvement with communities also plays a key role,” said Viridiana Lagarda, Geology Director, Bylsa Drilling.
The importance of mining in Mexico´s history is considerable. The economic geography of the country´s various regions was influenced by the development of this sector. Cities like Durango, San Luis Potosi, Guadalajara, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Pachuca, Zacatecas, Parral and Fresnillo were founded precisely by the flourishing of the mining industry. Since then, they have continued to grow and gain importance without being totally dependent on mining, wrote for MBN Karina Rodríguez Matus, Partner, Rodríguez, Matus & Feregrino.
Worldwide attempts to address global warming and transition to a net zero carbon economy have increased interest in renewable infrastructure, which demands the use of various minerals, especially lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper. Besides mining contribution to these attempts, the sector has also been pressured to utilize greener sources of energy during its processes, and technology has often been an important asset to address these.
“We are focusing on decarbonization of our processes, with electric and hybrid equipment. Also, water recirculation processes are crucial in our efforts toward sustainability,” said Lagarda.
While technology is crucial among mining field operations, it “goes beyond physical equipment and also impacts the way industry players communicate, both internally and externally,” said Lauren Megaw, Investor Relationships, Reyna Silver.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges and modified the way people work across the world. In Mexico, videoconference usage rate grew 25 times during 2020, and although the mining sector may not seem to be the ideal industry for tele-working, technology has improved internal communication within companies as well as communication between different supply chain players. “We developed applications to maintain good internal communication between head office, geologists and management. Communication is the foundation of trust with investors and the supply chain,” said Konnert.
Building Relationships with the Community
Besides legal aspects and concessions, mining companies must involve communities where they are working and keep an ESG approach, agreed industry experts.
“Underground mining equipment is shifting toward electrification. Mexico is not there yet, but we will see this happen in the near future. Community involvement is crucial in mining. We have reforestation projects tighten to schools, where we plant trees at schoolyards together with the kids that gain that sense of belonging. Mining companies can have an impact on something as big as climate change and something as small as a first-year student earning a sense of belonging to his schoolyard,” said Whiting.
While ESG has become an important trend in most industries, including the mining sector, in reality this mindset regarding communities has always been there in the mining industry, said Konnert. “Mining has been doing ESG from forever.”
Supply chain cooperation, assertive communication, technology and sustainability will play a key role for the Mexican mining industry to have success.