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Technology Is Essential for Project Success: M3

Jezrael Acuña - M3 Mexicana
Country Manager


Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 07/20/2023 - 11:47

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Q: How does M3 contribute to the mining sector? 
A: M3 Mexicana is an engineering firm that specializes in providing comprehensive project engineering services for the mining industry. We handle everything, from feasibility studies to construction management, ultimately delivering a fully operational facility to our mining clients. 

Q: How does M3's multicultural team enhance the company's perspectives in terms of designing, building and managing mining projects? 
A: M3's strength and core focus is on minimizing errors in construction. Safety is a top priority for M3, ensuring not only the well-being of the individuals involved but also the safety of the project itself, including risk analysis. M3's analytical expertise minimizes client investment losses and seeds a sense of security. The coordination of the three disciplines within M3 facilitates error detection and embodies years of experience, resulting in efficient and secure project execution.

Software solutions are our main allies. We merge the experience of each of our sectors into a single platform, effectively carrying out the entire project, ensuring the client's confidence and the project's success. This approach brings economic benefits by saving costs, mitigating potential risks and ensuring the project's operability and security for the entire mining venture. 

After 31 years in Mexico, we are now noticing an increase in competition. There have always been project management companies dedicated to other areas, such as energy or automotive; however, in the mining sector, these kinds of companies have not had much presence in the country. It wasn’t until about five years ago that similar companies began to establish in Mexico. What sets us apart is our ability to customize services to meet our clients' specific needs. We accompany them throughout each project, allocating resources accordingly. Unlike our larger global competitors, we provide a personalized touch and direct support to our clients, which is difficult to do for larger companies. With over 600 employees, we offer tailored solutions and address our clients’ significant challenges.

Q: What are the main challenges that M3 clients face in keeping projects on time and on budget?
A: Having many companies involved in a single project can complicate the coordination and execution process. This is especially true when M3 is brought in at a later stage, after feasibility studies have been conducted by different entities. The location of the project poses additional difficulties due to geographical factors and security concerns. These challenges can impact project timelines and increase costs, thereby affecting the ability to keep projects on schedule and within budget. Additionally, the global crisis caused by the pandemic has disrupted supply chains and logistics, making it more challenging to deliver equipment on time.

Q: What is the role of EPCM companies during a mine closure process? 
A: The process has changed over the years. Previously, companies would invest in mine closure only when the mine reached the end of its life cycle. However, we are now assisting clients in implementing partial closures. This means developing plans in collaboration with clients to formally and compliantly close specific areas that are no longer used. We ensure that these plans meet SEMARNAT’s requirements and those of all other relevant regulators. Our goal is to implement closure plans before the mine's life cycle concludes.

Q: How much have clients’ needs changed since M3 started doing business with the mining sector? 
A: Our clients have become more demanding over the years, which is a positive indicator because one of our values is continuous improvement. We always measure and evaluate the projects we execute, constantly seeking ways to improve alongside our clients. Nowadays, they expect increased monitoring throughout all stages of the project. Clients now emphasize the need for measurable indicators and monitoring in each discipline, including engineering services and construction. These indicators serve as benchmarks for budget and timeline adherence, which are crucial aspects of every project. These two factors significantly impact the overall project as a whole.

Q: Since engineering is a highly-dense technology field, what new advancements is M3 incorporating into its processes? 
A: One of the most powerful tools we have now is 3D modeling. However, technology and software constantly change or are updated. We identify important areas in different disciplines and adapt them accordingly. One of the technologies we use and that will have a great impact on the sector is virtual reality (VR). We can now construct a digital version of the mining site. Once developed, we provide the mine’s workers with a VR headset and they can explore the mine as if it were a video game, which helps them become familiar with the facility before it is even built. In turn, it helps us apply suggested changes the operator might have, resulting in a more optimized design. 

Q: How will the Mining Law reform affect M3? 
A: The reform is a difficult topic, which must be seen with objective eyes. As a company, we believe that it is crucial to engage in dialogue and collaboration regarding the law. It is important to involve all stakeholders, discuss the law and seek improvements or agreements. The reduction of concessions from 50 to 15 years affects our business model as it can create uncertainty among investors, who might think twice before investing.

If lawmakers had invited stakeholders like chambers or associations and held meetings or work sessions to discuss this, the benefit would have been greater for the entire country. We still believe in the authority of the government, but it would be better if they could listen to us and consider our opinions. As individuals working in the mining industry, living in mining areas and directly interacting with miners, we have valuable insights to share. By gathering statistics and reaching agreements, we can contribute to shaping the law in a way that benefits Mexico.

Q: What are M3's plans for the near and long term? 
A: As always, we want to expand our global presence. Currently, we have offices throughout the Americas. We have three locations in the US, and we also have offices in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina. We aim to expand to other South American countries. We are already working on projects in this region, specifically in Peru, Chile, and Argentina, where we are gaining valuable experience in lithium projects. These projects are in their early stages, and we see this region as one of the first opportunities we would like to pursue in this field. We would like to use the experience gained in these lithium-producing countries to develop projects in Mexico and in the US. 

We also want to continue implementing VR solutions. Currently, we have two projects where we have implemented these solutions and they are nearing completion and delivery. The difference we have observed is remarkable compared to before. This technology has allowed us to discover even more details and make greater improvements. 

M3 Mexicana is an EPCM firm, merging architecture, engineering and construction management. With over 37 years of experience and a diverse team of more than 600 professionals, M3 offers innovative design solutions and comprehensive project management services. 

Photo by:   Mexico Business Publishing

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