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News Article

Mexico Must Start Thinking Globally on Tech

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 17:06

New technologies such as automation and digitalization create new investment and job opportunities for Mexico, according to panelists discussing “Moving with the Times in Technology and Innovation” at Mexico Mining Forum 2017.

“Technology is making us move forward, increasing productivity and generating additional resources that end up creating more jobs and exploration opportunities,” said Roberto Pérez, Head of Motors and Drives at Siemens, at the Hotel Sheraton María Isabel on Wednesday in Mexico City.

Pérez was joined on the panel by Dominic Pasteiner, Journalist and Industry Analyst at Mexico Mining Review, who also acted as moderator, and Eduardo Bennett, Mexico President of Komatsu, Carlos Caicedo, Managing Director of Atlas Copco, Richardt Fangel, Director General of FLSmidth and Richard Booth, Senior Vice President Latin America of MMD Mineral Sizing.

While it is true that automation and digitalization are unstoppable forces, there is widespread fear regarding the perception that such advances lead to job losses. However, the feeling is the same every time there is technological progress, said Bennett. “Back in the 1950s, robotics generated the same feeling that automation is generating today.”

Technology is poised to generate jobs in many fields such as IT, said Booth. “We need to take people out of mines. It is a matter of security.”

Conditions at new mines as well as the need to explore new locations has made automation and digitalization processes in the sector even more pressing. “Mining is trying to reach more difficult zones and conditions are becoming riskier for humans. Autonomous equipment is becoming an obligation rather than an option. Performing high-risk tasks with significant accident reduction will translate into prosperity,” said Caicedo.

Automation not only generates fewer accidents but also reduces operational costs. But it will require a complete mindset change from the way business is done in Mexico, said Fangel. Although it is true that there is still a long way to go, Pérez is confident the industry is on the right track: “We have accomplished digitalization up to a certain point. The next step is to have all the elements of the mine communicated. Full digitalization will allow companies to compare in real-time their results with specific targets.”

Even though the mining industry has been an integral part of the Mexican economy for over 500 years, it still has not gained the necessary recognition, said Pasteiner. For Bennett, part of the problem is that its importance has never been recognized as in other industries. “We have the responsibility of working with the Mexican state in the generation of a national development plan that transcends governments.”

For the industry to continue thriving, Mexico must be open to technological changes, said Fangel. “The industry needs to start thinking more globally and stop thinking Mexican,” he concluded.