Mexico’s mining industry is evolving and maturing. As the new head of Ausenco’s Mexico office, I spend a lot of time talking with the country’s mining leaders. Here are the five issues that are often at the top of the agenda.

I’ve been working in Mexico’s mining industry for decades. Early in my career, I worked for a well-known Mexico-based mining consultant organization – first in permitting, and then in costs, contracts, project coordination, marketing, auditing and finally as a project manager helping coordinate massive mining projects across Mexico. My career progressed, and I worked on a range of projects in both Mexico and South America.

In that time, I’ve seen Mexico’s mining sector grow and flourish. In part due to Mexico’s resource richness – but also thanks to the ease of doing business in the country – the mining sector has boomed. And local capabilities have become increasingly sophisticated. Our schools and institutions produce exceptional talent. Our suppliers and service providers have become world-class.

Identifying the trends

Today, I lead Ausenco’s Mexico office. Like me, Ausenco has been operating in Mexico for decades. The company has deep experience supporting clients across design, construction, operation and closure. But even with all of that experience, we don’t just assume we know what our clients need and want. That’s why my first order of business with Ausenco has been to sit down with our clients to better understand and assess the trends and challenges they face while operating in Mexico.

Here are the five big trends I’ve been hearing in my discussions with industry leaders across the country:

  1. Localization.Working with local suppliers and service providers helps mitigate schedule, cost and supply chain risks. It also helps build stronger relationships with local communities and businesses, and encourages the local ecosystem of service providers to grow. Many of Mexico’s mining leaders and executives are keen to expand their local supply chain and build relationships.
  2. Regulation. Mexico’s mining regulation is becoming increasingly sophisticated as the government seeks to improve safety, equality and sustainability. And that is creating some challenges for those with existing assets in the market. Clients are looking for help incorporating new mining reforms into their strategies and plans while ensuring they remain prepared for future regulatory change.
  3. Water. Mexico’s government is clearly focused on improving water security and recently enacted regulations that significantly tighten water extraction permitting for the mining sector. Many mines are also located in arid regions where water scarcity is a significant risk to operations. As such, many mining organizations in Mexico are now looking for opportunities to reduce their water intensity across the lifecycle of their assets.
  4. Sustainability. Beyond regulated sustainability requirements, many mine leaders recognize that the cost of finance is increasingly tied to a company’s sustainability metrics. We are hearing from a number of established and junior mining companies seeking to understand how to improve, measure and report on the sustainability of their operations – from development to operation and from pit to port.
  5. Efficiency. With resource prices and demand in flux, mining executives are seeking to make their business as efficient as possible. On the design and development side, this is about delivering an asset that maximizes the total lifetime value of the mine. On the operations side, it’s about de-bottlenecking and optimizing the existing processes. Clients are looking for ideas and experience that can help them improve overall efficiency.

What mining leaders want

My discussions with mining leaders suggest that, as the Mexico market matures, their expectations of their service providers are evolving.

What mining leaders in Mexico are looking for is a holistic, multidisciplinary approach. They want service providers that look at their projects from every angle so they can remove barriers early and increase value at every stage of the lifecycle. And – when they do encounter barriers – they want to be able to tap into subject matter experts who can help them quickly find solutions.

At the same time, mining leaders in Mexico are looking for a strong mix of global and local best practices, tools and technologies. They want local perspective and experience, delivered by Mexican experts working in close collaboration with global colleagues to drive projects that fit the local context.

Miners are also seeking innovation and new ideas that can make them more efficient and sustainable. In my discussions, mining leaders have demonstrated they are keen to improve the way they conduct their business. They want to learn how to make tailings safer, how to reduce energy use in milling, and how to improve flotation technologies, for example. They are looking for advisors who can bring – and apply – new ideas and technologies.

What’s on your agenda?

When I’m not ‘on the road’ meeting clients, I’m usually at Ausenco’s new office in Hermosillo – working with our expanding team of local specialists and experts to ensure we are delivering the right mix of skills and capabilities to meet our clients’ evolving needs. On behalf of our Mexico team, I’d like to extend an invitation to visit us to talk about what’s on your agenda for mining in Mexico.

Article first published in Mexico Business News, February 2024. Reprinted with permission.