Manager of AUSTRIA DUVAZ:
Alternate project To operation in Morococha
FOR NEWS GERENS · JULY 10, 2017
In this interview, Roberto Vicuña Ruiz, professor of the Mining Program for Non-Mining Executives and graduate of the Diploma in strategic management for the new Mining of the Graduate School GERENS, indicates the strategy set in motion after assuming the position of general manager of the Company Minera Austria Duvaz last September 2016.
Professor Roberto Vicuña is an MBA from the Technological Institute of Monterrey and a Mining Engineer from the National University of Engineering – UNI. In turn, it is part of the 2009 promotion of the Diploma in Strategic Management for the New Mining of GERENS.
He has more than 28 years of experience in the mining industry, nine of them in management positions, assuming roles in operations management, technical services management and project management. Within the Mining Program for Non-Mining Executives, he is in charge of dictating the courses Planning and Engineering and Underground Mining.
Could Austria Duvaz introduce us? Where is it located, what kind of minerals do you use?
The mining operation Austria Duvaz is located in the Mining District of Morococha, Km. 186 of the Central Highway, province of Yauli, department of Junín, at an average altitude of 4500 m.s.n.m. It was constituted the 14 of December of the year 1906 under the reason of Sociedad Minera Austria Duvaz.
We have a polymetallic deposit which allows the production of copper concentrate with a high content of silver, lead with high silver content and zinc concentrate. In this sense, the supply of minerals we handle is made up of silver, copper, zinc and lead. These minerals are mostly found in the area.
What were your first activities as general manager of Austria Duvaz?
Before assuming the position, I had the opportunity to visit previously, in August 2016, the mining operation. During that visit, I was able to identify the aspects to be improved in the processes of the operation and that were later incorporated into the strategic plan. Also, the main challenges of the mining industry were mapped.
In order to implement the improvements to the strategic plan, deep changes had to be made first in the structure of the organization. Therefore, we start with the renovation of all operational areas of the mining unit such as: geology, planning, operations; Also the management of the maintenance, the management of the concentrating plant, the environmental management, among others. The aim of these changes was to achieve greater productivity and efficiency.
The plan was presented to the board the same month of August and was launched in September. Within the main measures of this plan is the impulse to brownfield explorations, so that three diamond drilling rigs were activated. This has allowed to confirm the location of resources of which it was not certain of its quantity. Thus, since October 2016, reserves have increased in the operation.
Another important step was to strengthen the planning area. This area lacked the empowerment required to align operations to the plan, so it was envisaged to strengthen it. We also develop the process of change in the safety culture. We understand that it is a change that presents a long time horizon but it is important that the first steps towards a culture of security based on values are taken.
In the same way, it began with the process of semimechanization of the mining operation. The Duvaz deposit is a conventional / traditional mine with more than 100 years of work in the area. Semimechanization models are now being applied since March of this year on the farm with methods sublevel stoping. This has increased the production rate of the mine and, in turn, the pace of treatment at the plant, which has reduced costs.
In summary, the reactivation of the explorations, the strengthening of the safety culture and the semi-mechanization of the mine are three of the most important aspects that have been addressed when assuming the general management.
What has been learned in GERENS has been useful to you during your tenure in Austria Duvaz?
I was lucky enough to follow one of the first editions of the Diploma in strategic mining management that dictates GERENS. This learning experience, plus everything accumulated in experience to date has served me, serves me and will continue to serve me. Many of the management and strategic planning tools remain in place. Moreover, I must admit that the experiences that the teachers transmitted to me greatly helped to evaluate different situations. So, this baggage has trained me to compare and analyze the mining context, in order to apply the knowledge acquired to make the best decisions.
What was done in the Austria Duvaz mining was to lay bases. An adequate strategic plan was developed for the circumstances and a rapid implementation. We understood that the mining sector in general is very dynamic and must act quickly. A proof of this is that in less than six months is already being applied sublevel stoping which is a significant achievement for the whole team of Austria Duvaz. This is how all the knowledge acquired has helped to structure the actions outlined in the strategic plan.
Do you consider training for performance improvement relevant? Does Austria Duvaz boost this among its professionals?
Continuous training is important in the mining field. Training is the answer to the need that we have as a company to have a qualified and productive staff. In Austria Duvaz we understand the relevance of acquiring and updating knowledge, as these will enhance the productivity and performance of employees.
At the company we are committed to training and we are committed to finding mechanisms that give our staff the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required to achieve optimal performance during the entire stay of the worker within the organization.
So we have several professionals in a cost and finance program for mining companies at the GERENS Graduate School. At the same time, we have programmed the training of a group of professions in the management of risks and safety at work.
What are Austria Duvaz’s plans for the future?
Upon arrival in September 2016, the plant treated about 18 MT / day. Today, we are treating 25 TM / day, and we have projected that by the end of this year the plant will produce 30 MT / day which is what is contemplated in our short-term plan.
Regarding the medium term, by 2019 at our Morococha plant, we plan to scale our production at a rate of not less than 1,200 MT / day, which in the best case may be as high as 1,500 MT / day .
On the other hand, we have the objective of developing a second operation, for this reason we are evaluating different options and expect to have a new operation in the next three years. In this way, we expect to reduce operating costs.
How are you managing the expectations of the communities and authorities on the projects that Austria Duvaz has?
The main policy in this area is to be transparent, not only with the communities and authorities of the area, but also with our union. This is a good practice that fosters trust among all actors and is reflected in a good relationship.
We hope to continue to implement new policies that allow us to maintain good relations with the communities, in order to address aspects of the core business such as the purchase of land and / or community relocation. To this practice is added our policy of maintaining local suppliers made up of communal enterprises, where they manage their own services in the area.
How do you evaluate the situation in Peru for the development of mining activity in the coming years?
In general, we understand that the economy is not growing in the projected way. However, this government has implemented standards for the development of the mining sector. One of them is the administrative simplification, which streamlines the procedures and allows an important time saving.
Another favorable aspect for the industry is that the prices of the metals have begun to rise and has allowed to restructure the plans of extraction. A first consequence of this trend in prices is that the mining sector has increased its production.
In summary, we perceive the support of the government in aspects that favor the development of the mining industry. On the other hand, we must work together to solve social challenges with communities: they are one of the biggest challenges for the industry. So as a mining sector we have a major challenge in this field. Finally, I must say that I have an optimistic view that we will continue to grow as an industry in the coming years.