Jaime Lomelín

How Zacatecas Develops the Best Mining Talent

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 13:16

As the mining industry once again flourishes globally, operators need reliable contractors, staff and a strong pipeline of human capital to make operations more efficient. The Mining Cluster of Zacatecas (CLUSMIN) ensures the state remains an industry leader through the development of its key asset: people. “We are convinced that the most important resource of a company is its human capital,” says Jaime Lomelín, the cluster’s President.
Zacatecas is the No. 2 mining state in the country, after Sonora, with the industry accounting for 17.9 percent of the state’s economic activity, according to INEGI. To meet the growing needs of this mining hub, CLUSMIN set out to define the labor needs up to 2025 through a study on the future of mining in Zacatecas and its talent challenges, funded by CONACYT. Its findings allowed it to better take advantage of the state’s privileged mining features for developing the best talent. “The strategy strives to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for all miners and in harmony with the environment,” Lomelín says. These goals are achieved through training and the exchange of best practices among all the cluster members.
The association includes several universities, such as the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), the University of Zacatecas (UAZ) and in particular the Technical University of Zacatecas (UTEZ), which enables CLUSMIN to foster student involvement in the industry. “Within a 300km radius there are 18 mines, so there are many opportunities for students to better prepare and obtain internships within the mining industry,” says Lomelín. This helps the state to develop high-quality talent that will graduate with real work experience in the industry. “As mining companies participate in defining academic plans, there is a better synergy between businesses and academic institutions, and this already happens with IPN’s Metallurgy Engineering students that spend three weeks in the classroom and one week in the field,” he continues.
But it is not only about making sure the new generation of mining professionals gets the best preparation. “The cluster also provides training to technical and administrative staff,” explains Lomelín. CLUSMIN, with the financial support of its associates, provides free courses to continue nurturing the current workforce. The topics vary and include sampling techniques, welding workshops, rock mechanic seminars, explosives management and structural design. “We are proud of setting the standard for a collaborative economy,” he says.
Several mining companies, such as Minera Frisco, have shown their support for the cluster’s initiatives by opening training and research centers in the state. “The Zacatecas cluster follows a unique model that brings clients and suppliers together in the same association,” says Lomelín. “Its success is due to the joint participation of all its members. It is a project that transcends political administrations and with healthy finances, it retains a small, efficient management team and outsources most of its services.”
CLUSMIN is thriving as a promoter of mining in the state, but it has not been an easy initiative. “We started from nothing and it has been an exciting road,” says Lomelín. “The cluster is moving quickly and achieving its goals thanks to the collaboration of our members to reduce industry costs, improve services and have trustworthy partners.” At its inception, the cluster was an initiative of the Zacatecas State Council for Economic Development. When the council determined that there were not enough operators to form a cluster, it decided to include clients and suppliers to increase productivity across the whole industry value chain, create more jobs in the area and reduce criminality.
Today, CLUSMIN is a civil association divided into four committees that endeavors to boost productivity and attract more mining investment to the state. These committees are for supplier development; human talent; health, safety and environment; and technology and innovation. They have 80 associate companies and eight mining groups with 18 units operating within a ratio of 300km. It also has become a regional cluster, with active participating members from Durango, San Luis Potosi and Aguascalientes. The state governments are also engaged participants.