A Methodology for InnovationThu, 10/17/2019 - 12:14
Q: As an EPCM company, what are the main challenges for the Mexican mining sector and how are you adapting to tackle these?
A: Two significant challenges the industry faces pertains to projects that are often over budget and completed late. Additionally, there is a huge shortage of experienced technical people. I think that Mexico and Canada working together is a great combination as Mexico has significant mineral and labor resources and Canada has the financial sector and technical expertise. The way we adapt to and approach these opportunities depends on the type of project but we always strive to think about ways to do projects differently and how this, in turn, can differentiate us from other companies we compete against.
To achieve this, we have a lean team model focused on only doing work that really adds value. As companies grow, most become what we call “systematic machines” and this is something that we aim to avoid. Consequently, we really focus on the activities that are necessary; avoiding all superfluous corporate procedures that do not add value to the engineering process. So in order to mitigate the risk of reaching a stage in which we will become just like anybody else we decided to change our thinking. We need to do things differently to solve the industry’s shortcomings. Doing things differently for us is the equivalent of doing them better. One of our aims is to introduce different technologies (both engineered and digital) and approaches to mining processes to make them more effective. We add value by designing unique and applicable solutions for every project.
Q: What have been some of the standout projects for Halyard to date?
A: Halyard’s biggest contract to date has been the EPCM for Harte Gold Corps’ Sugar Zone Project, which is currently in operation. The Sugar Zone project was a fast-tracked job and from beginning to completion it took us 15 months to achieve production. Based on the project delivery success of the initial project, which comprises of: an 800t/d concentrator, water treatment facility and paste plant, we have been asked to be involved in the expansion of the Sugar Zone property.
In addition to Harte Gold, Halyard has also executed projects for juniors and mid-tier clients, such as Alamos Gold, Hudson Bay Minerals, Canada Fluorspar, LNS Greenland, Coeur Silver Tip, Dominion Diamond, Stornoway Diamonds, Gold Corp and Agnico Eagle.
Q: How does Halyard differ from other engineering firms in the mining sector?
A: Halyard Inc. is driven by the need to actually implement projects whereas many other players in our space stick to purely consulting work and studies. On the other end of the spectrum, we believe the large EPCM firms struggle to deliver smaller capital projects (below US$60 million) in a fast-track and efficient manner and this is the space we operate in. We are still a relatively unknown entity in the market as we have only been around for seven years, but from day one we have focused on building a strong track record and credibility. Halyard is technically strong, agile and has an efficient low-cost structure that delivers on its promises.
The ideal job for Halyard is to be involved from project inception and manage the job through to completion and handover and thus capitalize on continuity throughout the project life cycle.
Q: How will Halyard maintain this hands-on approach if its growth rate continues?
A: Every company must deal with the stress of growing and adapting to the changing market and Halyard is not immune to these dynamics. So, in order to best adapt to this growth we try to employ people who share the same type of entrepreneurial work ethos and have the relevant experience in terms of fast-track, hands-on projects. These desirable traits of our staff and potential candidates are specifically evaluated by a professional mentor who assesses whether this person is a good fit in our organization. Furthermore, the initial assessment serves as a baseline for that person’s ongoing professional development while working at Halyard.
I also need to say that because we are a smaller firm, our staff must be willing to participate in areas that normally would be outside of their traditional discipline and able to go the extra mile when this is needed. This is a company for professionals who share a passion for what they do and want exposure to technically-complex and fast-paced projects that can handle the responsibility of excelling in a deliverables-based environment.
Q: Does Halyard operate globally, and are there any regions the company is looking to expand into?
A: Halyard has done work throughout Canada and North America and we have delivered a project in Greenland where we built a ruby processing plant. Going forward, we would like to consider executing projects in Latin America. However, in the short term our focus is to build our business in Toronto and establish a good foundation here first. We are cognizant of not trying to overreach.
We are not limited to any geographic location; we will go where the projects take us. We are also looking at diversifying into other market sectors that share similar technologies and processes to the mining industry. I believe that we need to use our strengths in one area as a springboard to move into the next and this is how we will grow.
Q: What are Halyard’s main objectives moving forward?
A: Throughout the ebbs and flows of the market we have always managed to stay busy and stay profitable which is evident by our sustained growth year by year. I believe that as long as we can continue to be involved in good projects and build a strong name in the industry, we will be able to continue this upward trajectory.
Similar to our competitors, we want to attract the best people. Halyard’s objective is to grow its workforce from 22 to about 30 people by 2020, and increase our revenue by the same margin within this time frame. We must manage our internal growth while maintaining the highest technical standards and client service. We want to prove that we are the best company in our market segment and that we can deliver on our promises. My final message to the industry would be that if you are serious about getting a job done in a meaningful way, Halyard Inc. is a company worth partnering with.
Q: What project and work have you undertaken in Mexico?
A: We recently worked at Agnico Eagle’s Pinos Altos mine in Chihuahua to build and supply a modular sampling plant. We undertook this project in 2018 and developed it in only two months. The project was a success and is operating as intended. We also tested a preconcentration technology at another of Agnico Eagle’s sites. Similarly, we are using this technology to look at the benefits of preconcentration at Impact Silver’s Capire site to upgrade its deposit. Outside of this, we are doing some work at Goldcorp’s Peñasquito site in Zacatecas.