Written by Rebecca Castrejon, Editor
Produced by Taybele Piven, Director of Operations at WDM Group-LATAM
Interviewee Guillermo Adrian, CEO for Primero Compañia Minera
The San Dimas mine, managed by Primero, is one of Mexico's mining landmarks. This Sierra Madre Occidental deposit is located between the states of Durango and Sinaloa. It was founded more than 300 years ago, and it maintains a high productivity level under current management.
"Our productivity is a distinguishing factor, since we've been successful at increasing extractions even with this mine's narrow veins," Adrian said.
San Dimas produces a daily average of 3,000 tons, with a monthly drifting of 1.24 miles (well above any similar sector's parameters). To explain this, Adrian compared two of their projects: "The same developments that take a year for us to complete in the Canadian project, take a month around here," the executive added about the 435 miles of regularly explored tunnels at San Dimas.
Primero is committed to improving the inhabitants' quality of life at Tayoltita, Durango. The municipality's conditions are below nationwide standards for wellbeing; this is why the mining company reaches out to help in providing its population's access to education and other resources to improve socially and economically.
Primero's academic support consists from basic literacy lessons to scholarships for postgraduate studies, meaning its staff's development is not an afterthought for the company. "Some of our managers were machinery operators at one point, but their effort in obtaining an education paid off; Jose Varelas, our mine manager, started as a drilling operator in Primero," Adrian shared.
Primero has also displayed efforts to bring the gender gap closer by establishing integration programs, and afterwards developing technical training programs for Tayoltita's housewives. Many female workers started also as drilling operators and earned promotions into higher positions such as mine planning. "Members of our female staff could continue with their education in programs we made available for them and once hired by Primero they could move upwards into better positions," said the CEO.
Regarding safety, Primero has improved yearly in accident prevention as a result of providing its personnel of proper training in safety measures and operation of newer, safer equipment.
"Reducing accidents in 80 percent is no satisfactory feat for us; we keep striving to achieve improvements in this area not only through the latest technology, but also by educating and directing our staff toward a workplace safety culture," Adrian stressed.
Primero's efficient tailing disposal management is optimized by a filtering system able to eliminate any trace of humidity; this process forms a dry mass that can be compacted up to 90 percent.
Compared to other companies in the sector, Primero Mining's cyanide emissions are well below average due to purifying procedures able to eliminate cyanide almost in its entirety, with help from sunlight to eradicate cyanide from the ground.
"This is a state of the art procedure for waste disposal in gold extraction, creating a distinguishing factor in our processes," the CEO added.
Primero is supported by Amec Foster Wheeler in the mining company's compliance of environmentally-friendly procedures; as the British company performs quarterly inspections of Primero's deposits.
The San Dimas mine will be subject to a 62-mile per year exploration program. Cerro del Gallo's facility will expand to make room for their leaching processes.The Ventanas mining complex, 12 miles from San Dimas, is still in exploration stages.
"We are committed to become a mid-level company in the short term," stressed Adrian. To achieve this goal, Primero is in search of new properties for exploration and prospecting, providing existing operations of means to double current production, bringing organic growth to the corporation. "We are also on the lookout for possible opportunities such as acquisitions, mergers and joint ventures," Adrian stated.
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