Pushing Chihuahua’s Supplier DevelopmentBy Lorenzo Núñez | Fri, 06/11/2021 - 13:08
Q: What is CLUMIN’s role in attracting and preserving foreign mining investment?
A: Suppliers, mining companies and government officials make up the cluster. Our objective is to push supplier development by attracting investments. Ultimately, by generating additional investment and building more mines, we end up having more suppliers. We work alongside state officials to promote our state to foreign investors. Chihuahua remains a Top 5 state in all metal production. Ahead of the June 6 legislative elections in the country, we spoke to all the candidates about the importance of our industry while listening to their proposals. We want mining to be included in their economic projects.
Q: What are the main challenges that companies in the state face?
A: The main challenge that we have detected is communication with government officials. The cluster is a group of people who help each other. Meaning that when the mining industry needs certain policies or economic development, we come together and we come up with solutions to achieve our goals by establishing communication networks with the government. For instance, when we experienced roadway blockades, our role was to pressure the government authorities to find a resolution so that the situation could return to normal.
Another challenge to continue attracting investment. Chihuahua requires investment to develop more mining projects and further develop the supply market. While some governmental policies have made it more difficult to attract additional investments, I still believe that Mexico remains an attractive country for mining investment. We need to continue working to attract investment because the benefits of the mining industry have such a huge reach and cannot be understated.
Q: How did the pandemic affect mining companies that belong to the cluster?
A: In reality, the pandemic opened many doors in terms of the various ways to conduct business. For instance, the advantage of having a training course online meant that many more people could attend from different parts of the country without having to interrupt their activities.
Despite these breakthroughs, the pandemic certainly affected the industry, especially in regard to labor. The mining industry relies heavily on manual labor. When more than half of your workforce is unable to work, your entire operation is compromised. Thankfully, we are seeing that the pandemic is ending in other countries. In those countries, mines are operating at 100 percent and life seems to have returned to normal. We are hoping that Mexico is not too far behind.
The mining industry also contributed to society during these troubled times. During the pandemic, the mining industry has been among the industries that have helped municipalities the most, such as donating medical equipment. The mining companies that are a part of the mining cluster have donated over MX$90 million (US$4.5 million) in equipment and supplies, while also providing community support.
Q: What makes Chihuahua a great state to invest in mining?
A: Chihuahua has many top-of-the-line mining suppliers. The geological situation is also a big plus for the state but what sets Chihuahua apart from other states like Sonora, Guerrero and Zacatecas is that Chihuahua remains unexplored, which will lead to more medium to large-sized mining operations. In addition, in 2010, mining companies depended on out-of-state and sometimes out-of-country suppliers. Today, Chihuahua has those suppliers available.
Q: How has the cluster worked with members and nonmembers to develop the market?
A: We work alongside suppliers, and we promote their services with the objective of increasing supplier development. We really push for supplier growth and expansion. We also have training courses catered to our suppliers. Out of our 135 suppliers, the majority are equipment suppliers. These are the companies that get the most benefit out of our courses that range from security, environmental and economic development to finance and legal. We also hold business-to-business meetings, where we connect a mining company directly with a supplier.
Cluster Minero de Chihuahua (CLUMIN) was created in 2013 to support the principal mining units in the state. Its goals are to foster the development of local suppliers and attract more mining investment to Chihuahua.