Article first published in Mexico Business News, March 2023. Reprinted with permission.

I love working in Mexico. I spend at least a quarter of my time here – more if I can find a reason. Many of my favorite projects, clients and suppliers are here, and there are few things I enjoy more than driving through the rolling hills and mountains of Sonora and seeing ‘ranchos’, and even more recently, vineyards.

Thus, I was incredibly excited when we opened our office in Hermosillo, Mexico late last year. To me, this was a clear vote of confidence from our global leadership in the strength and opportunity of the Mexican market.

Opening an office in Mexico wasn’t about accessing low-cost labor, tax treaties or incentives. And it wasn’t to make a point to local governments or officials. We invested into Mexico because we know that our future growth and success is intricately tied to this country.

In that spirit, I would like to share with you the top five reasons (in no particular order) Ausenco opened an office in Mexico:

1. Access to talent

    If you are looking for young, smart and experienced mining and engineering professionals, Mexico is where you want to be. In part, this is because Mexico’s deep mining heritage has created an ecosystem of incredible schools and institutions that produce exceptional talent in a wide range of important disciplines.

    Yet what makes Mexico’s talent particularly valuable is experience. It’s not difficult to find an engineer in their 30s with a handful of successful mine developments already under their belt. Perhaps more importantly, their experience is recent, hands-on, and often earned in challenging environments.

    Simply put, we see Mexico as a Center of Excellence for mining skills and capabilities. And we view our office in Mexico as a key strategy for attracting and retaining some of the country’s best and brightest talent. While our office currently houses nearly a dozen employees (who work on projects around the world), we have plans to ramp up to 50 employees (or even more) in the next few years.

    2. Proximity to great clients

      We are not a newcomer to Mexico. When we opened our office last year, we were already involved in 10 different projects and studies across the country. We have delivered turn-key EPC projects – such as Las Chispas, as well as optimization efforts and of course a number of scoping, PFS and Feasibility studies. We are being asked by clients to leverage our Sustainability team and services as well, and are including, for example, Environmental Assessments and ESG Due Diligence in proposals. Our office in Hermosillo allows us to be closer to our clients, their project sites and their issues.

      Mexico is also home to many of the mining leaders we want to be working with. They have already invested into Mexico and are looking for in-country partners with the same conviction and commitment. Our office in Mexico allows us to work more closely with these organizations, to build relationships, and to be accessible when needed.

      3. Better supplier relationships

        As I noted in a recent article in Mexico Business News, I’m a big fan of localization, particularly when it comes to suppliers and materials. Localization helps mitigate significant risks – such as supply chain risks, cost risks and schedule risks. More to the point, Mexico is home to some very high-quality suppliers and service providers. With a few exceptions, everything you need to build and operate a mine can be found in Mexico.

        Even with all of today’s virtualization and collaboration technologies, the reality is that you can’t build solid, transparent and collaborative relationships with suppliers through virtual communication. You need actual face time; boots on the ground, shoulder-to-shoulder, dealing with the challenges together and building confidence in the relationship. Our office in Hermosillo gives us the opportunity to really get to know our suppliers and partners.

        4. Tapping into a growth economy

          Mexico contains some of the world’s richest resource deposits and ore bodies. It is an attractive place to work and a safe place to invest. As demand for resources rises, we expect to see Mexico’s mining and resource sector outpace other markets in terms of growth and investment. For mining in particular, we expect Mexico to lead global growth.

          At the same time, Mexico is emerging as a leader in many other resource-intensive sectors. Consider, for example, the many recent announcements from vehicle and battery manufacturers who have for many years operated extensive plants and factories in Mexico. All signs suggest that ‘local demand’ will contribute a significant portion of the mining and processing sector’s growth. Our office in Mexico means we can be at the frontline of this growth, supporting our clients as their business evolves.

          5. Great business culture

            One of the biggest reasons I love working in Mexico is the business culture. Relationships are meaningful and personal interaction is important to building trust. Clients as well as suppliers in Mexico are looking to build long-term relationships across a project lifecycle, versus simply dumping in a product or up-charging services.

            Government (particularly at the state and local level), as well as community stakeholders and regulators have been collaborative, transparent and supportive. The influx of new capital and capabilities from overseas, combined with local talent, is providing the economy with fresh ideas, skills and know-how that is helping make the business environment in Mexico very exciting – and a great place to invest.

            We are thrilled to have opened our new office in Mexico and are incredibly excited about the opportunities that our office presents for us, and for the people, clients and suppliers we collaborate with.

            On behalf of our growing team, I’d like to extend an invitation to come visit us! As I said, I’m always looking for a good reason to stay in Mexico a little bit longer.

            Contact Jim