A Well-Fed Miner Is a More Productive MinerWed, 10/21/2015 - 12:56
The evolution of mining methods and technologies has allowed mining companies to increasingly access ore pockets once thought unreachable. Today, mining companies are capable of constructing underground facilities at considerable depths, as in the case of the TauTona Mine in South Africa, located 3.9km below the Earth’s surface. Underground mining is undoubtedly the most common extraction method that exists, but it is also the most dangerous. While the mining industry has made outstanding accomplishments in terms of hazard control, it has also been accepted that it is impossible to entirely eliminate all threats due to the nature of underground extractive methods. This awareness has prompted mining companies to provide mine workers with everything they need in the event of mine collapses and entrapments. “If workers get trapped beneath the surface for many days, they will need nutritional supplies in order to remain healthy and survive,” says Dimas Jiménez Mendoza, Founder and CEO of Quinasa, a national provider of alimentary solutions. Rescue missions are complicated affairs and, due to the depth and complexity of underground mines, can take several days before they are successful. There have been cases where miners have been trapped for weeks waiting for the rescue squads to save them. “In order to be prepared for these circumstances, mine operators must have a system in place to ensure their workers have everything they need to be safe and well-nourished,” says Jiménez Mendoza. “Food supplies have a very important impact on how the miners withstand an emergency situation.”
Quinasa’s products were designed in 2007 with the original aim of providing NASA astronauts with all the nutrients they would need while working in outer space. Over time, the company realized the broader applications that their products could have in other industries. “We saw that our alimentary technology could provide a solution for mining companies looking to keep their employees well-nourished under any conditions,” says Jiménez Mendoza. For Quinasa, this meant developing “technological food” with high nutritional value, analyzed at a biochemical level. Food such as this can ensure that companies, and indeed, society, can be provided with products that help fight obesity and malnutrition problems. Since diversifying its target sectors, the company has been working closely with Peñoles to create products that can guarantee the wellbeing of
trapped employees. The first trial was performed at the Tizapa Mine, where 50 workers tried Quinasa’s products and rated them according to their taste and consistency. “The most important aspect of these products is that they were designed for mining shelters to have an alimentary reserve that could deliver a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids to the workers,” Jiménez Mendoza explains. The different nutrients found in Quinasa’s range of revolutionary products, such as “Food of the Future”, mango tablets, powdered guacamole, and chocolate, are equal to those when consuming a full meal. Together they provide a total of 1,030 calories, which is enough to sustain a person in rest conditions. “Another important aspect of our products is that they were designed to contain high doses of Vitamins A, C, and D. It is very common for mine workers to sustain injuries during their operations, which is why it is essential that they attempt to prevent infection and boost the immune system,” he adds
Quinasa is currently providing its products to five companies with producing mines, having extended its portfolio of clients from Peñoles and Fresnillo to Endeavour Silver, Pan American Silver, and Nyrstar. The company believes that its products can go much further for its clients, moving past their usage in underground food supply. “Nutrition has a direct impact on the productivity of a workforce. There is no doubt that if a workforce is properly nourished it will perform better,” stresses Jiménez Mendoza. Quinasa recommends its mango tablets for open-pit mine workers, especially for those that operate heavy machinery. The product’s high glycogen content contributes significantly towards keeping the operators highly alert, which is non-negotiable for workers who are in charge of dangerous equipment for long periods of time. “Stable levels of glycogen in the blood contribute to the wellbeing and well-functioning of the employees, whereas a lack of glycogen can affect their motor skills and coordination,” he adds. Our products can serve as a substitute for these foods. They are supplied not only to improve the health of the operators, but to also prevent accidents from happening.”
An ever-increasing intake of junk food and bad eating habits have resulted in obesity and malnutrition problems that have become a serious public health problem. Jiménez Mendoza notes that mining companies across Mexico have begun to understand this better and have started ongoing prevention and support programs to help establish better health behaviors among their employees. Recognizing the importance of healthy workers, the industry has made the subject an integral part of its corporate culture.