We are going through the process of making our mines more efficient and productive. We started in Guanaceví, which was our highest cost mine in 2017. Once we achieve more efficiency at this mine, we will implement a similar program to enhance productivity at El Cubo and Bolañitos. We are trying to make our mining processes leaner as quickly as possible. We are simply trying to make better use of our equipment and people, which are our two biggest assets.
Digitalization can help as smart plants and operations reduce the number of operators required. But there is the prevalence of the syndrome of proven technology. All companies want to benefit from new technologies but no one wants to be the first to try them. They know that digitalization can greatly benefit the industry, but they are not quite sure how. So, we make sure to speak directly with our customers to create a common understanding of the problem and, step-by-step, to start building a solution that will provide continuous improvement. The idea is to incorporate digitalization throughout the whole value chain to also gather integrated data.
I believe the biggest problem is that mines try to cut costs excessively. Sometimes the highest cost in an operation is personnel, due to the number of people needed but also the impact unions can have on production. Understandably, many mines want to automate their processes to reduce costs and increase safety. With the FMSL, autonomous or semi-autonomous trucks are spotted using the latest 3D cameras and RFID sensors to assist accurate truck alignment. Distanced from the shovel operation, truck drivers (if present) can enjoy a safer and more controlled working environment, as they are separated from the swinging shovel bucket. Our goal is to ensure the FMSL can be controlled by a single shovel operator. With personnel reduced and autonomous trucks introduced, site safety is greatly increased.
Some mathematicians at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, developed a radio basis function (RBF) algorithm to create 3D objects from point data. The first application was in scans for the medical industry, wherein wounds were scanned and 3D shapes could be created. A geologist then came across the technology and adapted it for geological modeling. The main differentiator is this algorithm and the speed at which our technology works. Initially, the technology was more focused on explorers because it helped map and discover the structure of the deposit. In the last few years, we have integrated more functionality in the software and it has become more applicable to operators so we are having more success at the operational level. We now work with the majority of the mining operators in Mexico including Industrias Peñoles, Fresnillo, First Majestic Silver, Primero Mining, Coeur Mining and Alamos Gold.