César Fernández
CIMA Consultoría Ambiental
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Environmental Consultants Emphasize Mining’s Contributions

By José Escobedo | Fri, 02/26/2021 - 10:02

Q: How did CIMA come about and what purpose does it fulfil?

A: I founded CIMA in 2014. Previously, I had worked for 10 years as an environmental consultant and became director of another company similar to CIMA. My area of expertise has always been in the mining industry. At CIMA, we have people who specialize in various fields. I am an ecology engineer. After seeing the environmental harm caused by old mining practices, I started to realize that I could contribute with to the proper functioning of mines through environmental studies. That is how CIMA was founded. Today, the company works 90 percent of the time in the mining industry.

Q: What issues does CIMA solve for its clients?

A: When the company was founded, we focused on environmental and forestry studies in regard to work permitting authorizations. We have elaborated over 170 studies, which have all been approved by the authorities and our clients. This is the source of our competitive edge. We work with prominent companies such as Agnico Eagle at their mining sites located in Chihuahua and Sonora. Our relationship with Agnico involves a mining concession but we also do due diligence and elaborate risk studies to highlight any area that could put the project in jeopardy in the future. We also focus our work on natural protected lands, land use planning, exploration studies and follow-up studies. If the project is profitable and has the characteristics to be a mine, we then concentrate our efforts on social and environmental permitting, as well as environmental impact studies and land use changes. Once authorization has been granted, we then collaborate with an external environmental agency and make sure the project develops without any issues. Later, we will concentrate on the closing stage of the project. We are working on this stage with Minera la India in Sonora. Our work is an integral process.

Q: What integral environmental solutions and studies do you execute?

A: We employ approximately 20 technicians who specialize in different fields, which is why we are interdisciplinary. For example, I am an ecologist with a master’s degree in forestry and fisheries. Our staff members also have master’s degrees in the natural sciences. My wife works with the company and has an engineering degree in ecology. We have biologists, civil engineers, architects and two ecology engineers who also have law degrees. The advantage of the latter is that I have these lawyers who understand not only the technical aspect of the business but the legal as well. Their expertise has solved many of the problems we face. Our field of work is diverse and we cover all a mine’s requirements.

Q: How do you approach each project you get involved in?

A: Not too long ago, the top junior mining companies in Mexico published their 10 most important exploration projects. We are proud to say we worked directly on three of these. Our collaboration on these leading projects is the result of the excellent work we provide our clients. We have worked on the Cordero Project with Discovery Metals from the very beginning; we are now in the exploration stage gathering environmental baseline data that will help us understand the area’s characteristics, which is necessary before a mine can operate. We do this so that when mining operations come to an end, you leave the area in conditions as close to when you first started working there. We have been involved from the very beginning in these three projects: Cordero, Los Ricos for Go Gold and Los Reyes in Sinaloa. We are supervising exploration activities and we do not want to make any errors because they will be very important projects for Mexico’s mining future. This is why we are getting involved from the very start, so that no errors are made. Even before the purchase of the concession, we make sure there are no problems and we can detect these by elaborating social and environmental risk studies, among others. We do these studies from the very start and we monitor every step of development, from exploration to the resolution of authorities.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I like the environmental aspect of the business. In the past, environmental studies were just a requisite. Today, the challenges are greater because the environment demands our attention. Every one of my staff makes sure all environmental studies are done with the maximum quality and excellence to avoid any environmental issues. This is what inspires me most about my job. There are constant environmental modifications and changes, and being informed regarding all these changes is our responsibility. Taking a proactive approach to these changes is a challenge that drives me. Another aspect of the job I like is helping to make sure mines do not jeopardize the environment. I just want to send the message that mining companies today are committed to going that extra mile to protect the environment.

Q: What is your take on the future of mining in Mexico?

A: The mining industry has faced challenges with the current administration. With its latest policies, it seems they want to punish the industry. I am always highlighting mining’s advantages because I see how much these operations contribute to the communities nearby and how they reactivate local economies. Currently, we are working on a project in Chihuahua and thanks to the mining industry we can employ people in the nearby communities who otherwise would not have a job. Mining is really the only activity that can help many of these communities have a better future. Unfortunately, the López Obrador government has complicated the landscape. For example, it has said there will be no mining operations allowed in natural protected areas. This does not make sense because before it was designated a natural protected area, a mine already existed there. I just do not understand the justifications and technical explanations the administration gives us. The government also does not understand the economic potential a mine can contribute to a region´s development. For example, look at a 500ha mine versus a 500ha vineyard. In this case, the vineyard needs tons and tons of water irrigation for many years and usually has machinery that substitutes man power. A mine generates many more jobs within the same 500ha than a vineyard. Mining creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs. It is a necessary industry that must continue and develop.

CIMA Consultoría Ambiental is committed to sustainability and innovation. It has an interdisciplinary team of professionals, as well as a network of experts and strategic alliances, to ensure its clients the technology, service and products they require to solve their needs regarding planning, environmental and legal management, as well as sustainable development.

José Escobedo José Escobedo Senior Editorial Manager