More Stringent Standards For DrillersMon, 10/22/2018 - 14:39
All too often, drilling companies adhere only to the bare minimum requirements in terms of environmental care and protection, says Enrique Ortega, Director General of Grupo SHB with RNG Perforación. For this reason, RNG works according to international AWWA standards, which are superior to Mexican water well standards and regulations. “It is important to meet industrial security standards and to have a workforce that understands and shares a respectful environmental culture,” he says. “Since 2011, we have been working with top Canadian mining companies, partners that have helped us to improve our standards and organizational culture.”
Ortega says mining standards are far too general in terms of groundwater. “It must be more specific and standards should be applied on a case-by-case basis. It is impossible to apply the same standards in the southeast of the country as those in the northern region regarding aquifers.” He adds that each project should have a better focus on the specific requirements they must oversee. For example, to drill a well, a company requires the CONAGUA permit. “I would like CONAGUA to consider certain guidelines that guarantee qualified companies will execute these works. Today, any drilling company with a drilling permit can drill but only certain companies are aware of the standards and requirements of these projects.”
According to Ortega, the oversight is not caused by bad will but rather the ease of bypassing many regulations. “I believe the Mexican mining industry is a noble sector, full of loyal and professional people who are increasingly aware and worried about environmental impact,” he says. “But it faces regulatory challenges. The next administration must understand that if it wants the country to progress, it must foster the economy instead of controlling it.” He believes the government should be an economic facilitator, not the industry’s ruler.
To be friendlier to the environment, SHB and RNG are drilling high-tech wells that are made with different materials to increase efficiency in pumping and can be built more quickly, doubling cost savings. “The casings are fabricated with different materials and they are more technical in terms of the screened open area,” he says. “This allows more efficient pumping, optimizing energy consumption.”
Ortega says the incorporation of technology in well construction can allow more accurate readings when monitoring the behavior of aquifers. “This enables miners with these kinds of constructed wells to study them and maintain sustainability,” he says. “This is key, as any operator’s interest is to preserve water resources because they cannot produce ore without it.” Ortega adds that technology also allows the discovery of deeper sources of groundwater, with the addition of SHB’s technical capacity making it easier to reach. “Artisanal drillers usually drill short wells due to their lack of technology and capacity,” he says. “RNG Perforacion aims to find the right solution for our clients regardless of how deep we must drill.”
RNG Perforación aims to provide its services to AAA mining companies starting from previous studies, design of the water wells to ensure success in all the projects involved. “Our value proposition is based on specialization so we target a very select market,” Ortega explains. “We have already reached this level but we believe we must continue learning and incorporating technological innovations as they come. Our clients need to know that we can carry out projects for them with the same efficiency found in developed countries.”
With the new administration, Ortega requests that CONAGUA become a more technical and less bureaucratic organization in terms of the drilling of wells. “As the years go by, Mexican aquifers remain overexploited and CONAGUA is failing to take the necessary preventive measures.” He says a certification process would also help foster best practices. “I would like to see a requirement established that, before authorizing a company to drill, it should be mandatory for them to be certified drillers first. The government must implement key actions to unify and improve drilling standards because with more exacting requirements, companies such as RNG Perforación will have a better opportunity to serve the industry.” He notes that it is difficult to compete with companies that do the same thing but with lower standards and often neglecting environmental concerns.