Rafael García
General Manager
Maza Drilling
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Maza Drilling: Wide Portfolio of Drilling Services

By Alejandro Ehrenberg | Wed, 07/22/2020 - 10:02

Q: What is the importance of having a portfolio with many drilling services?

A: Having different drilling services is crucial for competing in Mexico’s market. Maza Drilling’s policy is to keep up with technological improvements in the industry. We focus on diamond drilling and are able to deliver our drilling services in different modes. We adapt our services according to our clients’ needs. This variety of services makes us different from our competitors. For example, we have the capacity to reach far-flung work sites. Our portable machines are ideal for this. They do not require us to open up pathways in the field. We do not need to build roads to reach the area. Consequently, they are environmentally-friendly. We disassemble the machine and carry it manually or by means of small vehicles or even animals to the drilling areas. They are more expedient, too. The client does not have to wait for any environmental permit to come through. Portable is a little more costly, as production tends to be lower than with other options. Moving equipment is time-consuming. But we can adapt costs to the type of client we work with. If they commission a good number of drills, then we can offer a lower price. Maza Drilling assumes the extra costs. The project does not even have to be that big. We just need a project that involves more than one machine.

However, portable is not always the best option. When other types of drilling equipment are more suitable for the project, we also have the technology required. There are always unexpected complications that we have to solve. We are currently working on a project on brittle soil. Other drillers had gone in before us and failed. We were able to reach the required goal thanks to our portfolio’s breadth and our technicians’ expertise.

Q: How did the COVID-19 outbreak impact your business?

A: Our working capacity has been significantly reduced. For example, before the pandemic we had a project with 10 machines working. But now, health protocols prevent us from having that many machines working. Ten machines translate to 80 workers. Due to current regulations, we have only three machines working on that project. As a result, it will take longer to complete. Moreover, we have a number of workers on standby.

The issue is not that there is no work available. The mining industry has many projects in the pipeline. But things are slower because of health protocols. For instance, we are using rapid tests to detect COVID-19. If someone is positive, then we have to quarantine them. Afterward, we double-check the employee with a more specific test. This test slows everything down and drilling becomes interrupted at times. We have found that it is easier to work at a slower rate with fewer rigs than to have many rigs on site and risk contagion.

It is important to reach agreements with clients and providers. We all have to be flexible. It is a matter of cooperation to guarantee the progression of projects. The pandemic is a force majeure matter. The industry’s priority is to safeguard the health of workers and communities. One of our clients has explicitly told us that production is no longer the priority. It is health and safety. We have adapted our productivity goals accordingly. Everyone in the value chain is making sacrifices.

Q: How does Maza Drilling practice community engagement?

A: Healthy community relations are crucial for successful mining projects. It starts at the exploration and drilling stage. It is important to include the community in the drilling project. Our policy is one of mutual help. We always try to include local workers in nonskilled positions, like drilling helpers, food providers, cleaners, night-watchers, supervisors of automated machines. In some of the places where we work, we do come across skilled labor. Some community members have relevant experience and we make a point of including them in the project. It is mutually beneficial in many ways. For example, we save on transporting personnel and equipment from Sinaloa to other locations. Our operational costs decrease. Moreover, we develop good relations with the local community.

Q: How do you ensure your drilling services are sustainable?

A: We are committed to working in the most sustainable way possible. A case in point is the mud recycling systems we have in place. They recirculate the mud through waste separation facilities to settle the fluid. The clean water is then pumped out. It is a decantation process to optimize water use. Drilling is a water-intensive activity. When we provide a quote to a prospective client, the first factor we take into account is water. We have to know whether there is water available in the proximity of the project.

Maza Drilling is a Mexican company created in 2007 in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Its founder has over 20 years of international experience managing diverse drilling operations for top companies. It delivers underground, surface and man-portable drilling.

Alejandro Ehrenberg Alejandro Ehrenberg Journalist and Industry Analyst