Alberto Orozco
Sonora Mining Cluster

Creating a Virtuous Cycle from the Supply Chain

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 17:42

Finding new projects and the right team to ramp them up to production are two keys to mining success but Mexico is behind when it comes to exploration, says Alberto Orozco, President of the Sonora Mining Cluster. “We need to boost exploration in Mexican mining, which has been lagging for several years. Sonora, as the main mining state for exploration in the country, has a crucial role to play in replacing existing reserves.”
Clusters, in general, are positioned to prod the entire mining value chain to work together to keep the industry up and running. Orozco explains that prior to the clusters, CAMIMEX and other associations addressed specific niches. While these continue to serve the industry, clusters have a broader mandate. “The cluster integrates the supply chain, even for those providers that are not exclusively working for the mining industry,” he says.
The Sonora Mining Cluster, founded in 2015, has quickly grown and taken root in the industry. “Our first challenge was to convince mining companies and suppliers that we could provide an added value,” Orozco says. “We have been the most successful cluster in persuading the industry of our added value. We started with 19 founding partners and now have 165 associates.” While clusters help to better approach all links of the mining supply chain, they are still limited to operating in their respective regions, a state of affairs that Orozco sees changing with time. “Clusters are still young but we will eventually work together to transcend our states and work at a national level,” he says.
In the meantime, Orozco explains that as each mining region is different, regional clusters attend to their specific complexities. For example, the Sonora Cluster works to foster sustainability, security and innovation. “Our flagship events are the Security Forum and the Communitarian Relationships Forum,” he says. “We strive to incentivize the social sense of mining.”
This approach is a key differentiator of the Sonora Cluster, Orozco says. “We perform the usual duties of a cluster; that is, to host business meetings and seek to improve companies’ profitability. But we also have the capacity to focus on sustainability, science and technology with efforts that are unique compared to other clusters.”
The goal is to create a virtuous cycle, which starts by bringing together the right partners. Orozco believes that while explorers and operators are at the core of mining activity, suppliers, civil organizations and government agencies are crucial players that need to be integrated. “Once we have the right associates, we proceed to generate the right spaces for the industry to network and interact,” he adds.
Broadcasting the success stories related to innovation, responsible operations, productivity and security is another focus for the cluster. “The promotion of our activities and of our suppliers enables us to add more players to our virtuous cycle,” he says. The cluster produces an online magazine called Mineria Para Todos. “We invest in communication because we are convinced of its value. Our magazine is a space to communicate with our partners and the industry in an orderly and scheduled way.”
The cluster also organizes training programs and certifications. “We rely on the industry’s feedback to decide which areas should be covered when designing a training program. Security, business networking and technical matters are always popular topics,” Orozco says. The goal is for the training to become a trampoline for the professionalization of mining suppliers. Striving to institutionalize SMEs, the Sonora Cluster offers a certification program related to the quality standards of a given company. “The provider’s certification that we offer serves to professionalize suppliers so they can provide a better service to the mining industry,” Orozco says.