Education: Essential for the Industry’s FutureMon, 10/21/2013 - 10:48
The upturn in metal prices and the mining boom that came with it has brought great business opportunities for local providers in the Mexican mining industry. Many companies that were not previously part of the mining industry recognized the opportunities and decided to enter the sector. “Providers started representing foreign companies without the required knowledge or expertise regarding the products they were selling,” says Héctor Díaz Galaviz, Director General of Sonora Naturals, a distributor of supplies for different mining stages, from mineral extraction to producing the doré bars. “There are currently many products in the market that do not comply with the characteristics our clients are searching for. At the same time, these providers are not able to give the technical support the industry requires because they do not have the expertise.” Problems often arise when companies focus on the product price and do not see what technical support is included in the areas of monitoring and logistics, and most importantly in being able to fulfill the product guarantees. “There is a problem of companies growing without even knowing their product. A provider is almost a client’s partner, and should always focus on what is best for the client,” he emphasizes.
Sonora Naturals has over 15 years of experience providing supplies to the mining industry and is a distributor for Australian, Indian, Canadian and American companies. Díaz Galaviz highlights the importance of technical support and ongoing training courses for its clients as one of the key things that differentiates Sonora Naturals from its competition. “We are the only company in Mexico that organizes a gold and silver workshop, which is a 100% academic workshop. We are very committed to mining and education because we believe that the only way Mexico will overcome its challenges is through education,” he says. Next year, the company will be hosting its third event with 90% of the gold and silver producing companies of Mexico. “People are able to learn about what other companies are doing to solve diverse problems, as well as to find out about new techniques and technologies. The event is very dynamic, with 20 minute presentations and 25 minute Q&As, which enable those present to exchange experiences,” explains Díaz Galaviz. He believes that every stage of the mining process requires continuous training as well as support from the providers, because it is during these training courses that many ideas are born and providers can show their commitment. Most importantly, it allows the mining operators to realize that methodologies being taught can be applied in different areas. “During a training course we gave on activated coal at the Monumentales project, mine operators were able to tell us how it could be applied, and how it could solve issues that we had not previously considered,” he details.
Sonora Naturals provides a multimedia program for remote education to as many mining companies as possible with the aim of enriching the learning experience. This has become one of the main objectives for the company. “The true challenge that Sonora Naturals is currently facing is being able to formalize the remote training course to acquire a certification from a government entity. This will definitely provide added value to our clients,” emphasizes Díaz Galaviz. “When we go to the field to provide training for our clients, we also give mining lectures to high schools and middle schools. These are basic things but they are part of the company’s commitment to education.”
Sonora Naturals is a company with a strong sense of social responsibility. Through a collaboration with ESPS (Energía Solar y Proyectos Sustentables) the company is now generating 80% of its energy consumption thanks to a solar cell system. Díaz Galaviz explains Sonora Naturals is the third company in the state to be producing its own sustainable energy. “It is a project that gives us a lot of satisfaction because we are able to contribute to the global climate change problem by lowering our carbon footprint.” However, Díaz Galaviz recognized there is a lot of work to be done regarding the social responsibility of mining companies. He stresses the necessity to create agreements so that the sector’s suppliers are required at the very least to have some kind of environmental certification. Currently, ISOs and other certifications do not have enough relevance during decisionmaking processes for the purchase of a product. Clients do not think it is important for providers to be qualified under such schemes. Díaz Galaviz believes that as the mining industry becomes more professional, certification will have a higher relevance for both providers and mining companies.