"The people involved in the mining industry are very conscious of the weight of mining in the economy. We see INCIMMET's employees are very proud of what they do and where they work as they see the opportunities the sector provides them and their families."
How was business in 2019 for INCIMMET and how has the company expanded internationally?
2019 was a very good year for INCIMMET. For instance, in Colombia we constructed a 4.1 meter diameter, 310 meter-deep mine bore for Continental Gold; the first of its kind in Colombia and one of very few in Latin America. We also won the mine development contract with Tambomayo – Buenaventura and we had the renewal of our contract with Cerro Lindo – Nexa with a bigger scope, both contracts in Peru. Regarding our international scope, INCIMMET is one of the few companies in the Peruvian market with a footprint in the region, having worked several times in countries such as Colombia, Argentina and Nicaragua since the mid-90’s and an active commercial presence in other countries. We recently worked for two years with Hochschild Mining in Argentina operating a project for Minera Santa Cruz, training workers on mine backfill. Mine Backfill, as a specialized service we provide, allowed us to make this leap working abroad at an early stage of the company. At present, we are exploring opportunities for our complete portfolio of solutions in the region.
Although INCIMMET is known for underground mining, the company has been diversifying to work with open pit operations. Can you expand on this?
INCIMMET is one of the few mining contractors who work on both open pit and underground mining. Our first experience in open pit mining was with Anglo American at Quellaveco in 2011 where we carried out early earth moving work, platform construction, concrete, and civil works. This side of the business really took-off for the company in 2017 when we started working with Barrick Gold, Freeport, Southern Copper and Chinalco.
Currently, we have a total of seven open pit mining projects. We do not work on the blasting or hauling of mineral ore yet, but focus more on infrastructure projects, earth movements, civil and concrete works – facilities that go hand in hand with the direct operations of the mine.
What is the typical profile of INCIMMET’s mining clients?
The company’s commercial guideline outlines that we should only work with mining companies that are public. This give us the opportunity to better understand our clients having all the information public. Also, we work only with clients that share the same values we have.
Can you elaborate on the collaboration between INCIMMET and DuPont?
We wanted to strengthen our safety culture and working with DuPont was a very powerful and transformational experience. We thought that we were adhering to the best practices but when we began working with DuPont, we realized there were many areas where we could improve. 2020 is INCIMMET’s third year working according to what we learned with DuPont. They have helped to shift our entire business approach to safety.
We are working on seven safety aspects – mostly incorporating observation of employees to determine how they are behaving in the field and ensuring we give powerful feedback. What we call operational discipline outlines protocols and procedures which are updated and communicated to the staff. One of the important aspects is visible leadership: not only stating you are a leader but by showing your colleagues that you are a strong leader by setting an example.
Can you provide an example of how new technology is increasing productivity and reducing costs at underground mining operations?
INCIMMET is using the latest technology at Cerro Lindo for Nexa and Tambomayo for Buenaventura. Within the new fleet we will have at Cerro Lindo we purchased a machine that performs the cable bolting service and requires only one operator, compared to the old machines that require seven for the whole process. As well as boosting productivity, the operational cost savings are significant.
How much of an impact do you feel political turbulence in Peru has had on its mining industry?
We have an ancient culture of mining in Peru with abundant resources and all stakeholders have to figure out how to create value with these resources. The people involved in the mining industry are very conscious of the weight of mining in the economy. We see INCIMMET's employees are very proud of what they do and where they work as they see the opportunities the sector provides them and their families. On the other hand, social issues still remain. In my opinion, skeptics do not know how the mining industry works and can be influenced negatively by people who have no knowledge of the industry.
Over the last 10 years, Peru has established a middle class, which did not exist 20 years ago. There are very few other industries that can improve people’s lives in such a short time. To further develop this, mining needs to consider all stakeholders and be an industry that is conscious of its impact on the environment so projects can be developed a sustainable way.
How did COVID-19 affect your operations and what has the company done in response?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on business and industry. We had to paralyze the operation for at least three months. As a result of the situation, we had to activate protocols for business continuity and significant cost reduction initiatives. Although it is true that we have not taken legal measures of a labour nature, which would have allowed us to move fast, we have reached agreements with the entire organization, which has been incredibly supportive. We are also reinforcing continuously our health protocols together with our clients. A few years ago, we began the process of digital transformation and we have seen the results this 2020 during the pandemic. Having a powerful IT infrastructure allows us to operate remotely indefinitely, both in the central office and in our projects, thus helping to avoid contagion and unnecessary travel.