Jaime Lomelín
Zacatecas Mining Cluster (CLUSMIN)
View from the Top

The Transformative Power of Clusters

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 15:19

Q: What led to the creation of CLUSMIN Zacatecas, and to what do you attribute its success?

A: CLUSMIN Zacatecas was founded nearly two years ago, when the state’s new Governor came into power. Since then, we have worked together with him to develop it very quickly. The cluster is made up of 10 mining companies and 10 suppliers, and is divided into committees. The Cluster’s main committees are the suppliers committee, the human resources committee, and the health, safety and environment committee. Every cluster has ‘anchor’ companies - bigger companies that can support the cluster and provide work for other members – as well as another eight or 10 mining companies operating throughout the state. CLUSMIN’s anchor companies are Goldcorp, Fresnillo and Peñoles; other members include companies such as Grupo Mexico, First Majestic, and Pan American Silver. A good cluster has the triple helix: mining companies, suppliers and service providers; universities and research institutions; and the government. In order to gain traction, all of these groups need to be working towards the same objective. It is also important to have an active management team and Board of Directors. Success depends upon the openness of the Cluster’s members. Without complete transparency, the Cluster will not develop and neither will the industry.

Q: What benefits does CLUSMIN membership offer top mining companies?

A: The Cluster is a forum in which mining companies can discuss their needs with suppliers, allowing for mutual learning opportunities. For example, if certain types of equipment need to be adapted to suit the local landscape, through the cluster a mining company can show the supplier what is required to make those changes. In this way the Cluster allows the supplier and the mining company to work together to find the right solutions for the industry.

Q: What role can mining clusters such as CLUSMIN play in strengthening the domestic supply chain?

A: If your equipment comes from a supplier abroad, when it breaks down you can expect to communicate across thousands of kilometers for repairs, and wait five to 10 days for the equipment to be delivered. It is better for our mining companies to have these services available within the state. For these reasons, buying equipment from abroad is simply impractical. We believe that the labor cost in Mexico and the quality of the Mexican labor force offer equipment manufacturers an excellent opportunity to produce efficiently in Mexico and be able to export just as the automotive industry is doing in the country. The objective of CLUSMIN Zacatecas is to develop companies to produce equipment and also offer services in Zacatecas that are important for the mining industry at this time.

Q: How is CLUSMIN Zacatecas positioned relative to clusters in Sonora, Guanajuato, and other parts of the country?

A: CLUSMIN Zacatecas follows the model of clusters in other industries such as the Cluster Automotriz and Cluster Aeronáutico in Monterrey. There are several clusters in Monterrey, and the Director of their exceptionally advanced automotive cluster helped with the development of CLUSMIN Zacatecas. The Zacatecas cluster does not compete with Sonora because the two are involved in different types of mining – in Zacatecas the focus is more on underground mining, while Sonora is more focused on open pit mining, so the equipment that is being used is different.

Q: What is CLUSMIN doing to contribute to developing technology within Mexico?

A: Much of the technology that the cluster brings into Mexico comes from research institutions or from suppliers - suppliers are a very important source of information and innovation. Meetings outside Mexico also inform us of what is happening elsewhere. In exploration there is a lot of technology being developed by companies that want to sell to you. They sell a project and the techniques required to carry out that project.

CLUSMIN also puts research institutions in touch with schools so that they can help each other. It brings them together and then leaves them to do business. It creates the forums in which to discuss the problems that they face. The way to solve the industry’s problems is to put companies and institutions together, so that everyone understands what those problems are and can work on solving them together.