Top Talent for Zacatecas' Economic FutureWed, 10/16/2019 - 17:11
Q: How is COZCYT advancing Zacatecas’s mining industry?
A: Our mission is to further science and technology in Zacatecas, a state that counts mining as one of its top economic activities. We have a mining tradition that spans five centuries and are one of the most important silver producers globally. Historically, however, this industry has not produced a corresponding impact on the region’s development. Once a project was mined out it simply disappeared. COZCYT has intervened to make sure mining produces development and well-being. We are working to generate technology and a world-class talent pool in the state. Particular mining projects may come and go, but the talent they create will be useful in new projects in many industries besides mining.
To this end, we have undertaken several studies regarding the future of mining in Zacatecas, emphasizing innovation and labor. Working closely with mining companies, scholars and other segments of society, we have published a book that analyzes the future of mining in the state up to 2025. This book starts with expectations for the global metals market, considers Mexico’s and Zacatecas’ place in the international mining industry and finally, zooms into each particular project in Zacatecas to evaluate present and future human resource needs.
Often, universities believe that since there are many mines in the state, they should be training mining engineers. But modern mines are comprehensive projects that need all kinds of engineers. The production chain is also important. It is common to have foreign providers for specialized and technical matters, but there is enough talent in Mexico that just needs to be promoted and incentivized. We foster Mexican providers through a fund for stimulating innovation. We devise programs for the Mexican industry to become a quality mining provider.
Q: How does Quantum City of Knowledge fit into COZCYT’s mission?
A: We decided we needed a physical space where collaboration and conversation could flourish. This is crucial for COZCYT’s mission. We consequently located an area close to the city, so that all participants could come and go easily. We cleaned it up and implemented an environmental recovery plan that included rehabilitating an old tailings dam. The vision was to make it possible for academic research centers and private sector development centers to work hand-in-hand. We also included educational institutions whose main goal is training students. Quantum is right next to a campus of IPN, and it has developed a program with the state’s mining cluster based on study and internships. This collaboration between researchers, educators and companies is known as a triple-helix model, and we have expanded it into a quintuple-helix model, incorporating the environment and the community. Quantum is a magnet for talent, and where there is talent there are investments.
Q: What companies in the mining sector have R&D centers at Quantum?
A: The first agreement we made was with Frisco. It brought together the myriad of labs and research centers it had around Mexico and unified them here. Thanks to Jaime Lomelí and Carlos Slim’s support, we succeeded in creating the Center for Research in Mining and Metallurgy at Quantum. This center is in full operation, housing around 60 researchers. Lasec is another company innovating at Quantum. It specializes in networks and computing equipment for mining. It has a system known as Smart Flow that controls the circulation of workers, vehicles and processes throughout a mine. Lasec partnered with a German company, Becker, and is now Lasec-Becker. Moreover, we have Fresnillo’s Servimolina, focused on mining construction, and currently doing research on rock shoring. Grupo Terra has its center for capacitation in explosives for mining here, along with Maya Producciones’ center for audiovisual simulations of mining processes. Finally, the Zacatecas Mining Cluster center for compatible mining is here. Its goal is to further research in water use, environmentally sound practices and community relations.
The Zacatecan Council of Science, Technology and Innovation (COZCYT) is a decentralized public organization of the state of Zacatecas. Its main objective is to promote and coordinate the planning and development of science, technology and innovation.