Interview – Innovation Project Coordinator at Buenaventura Peru
Brian Pajares, a leader in mining technological innovation, specialist in Data Science from Harvard, and the current Innovation Project Coordinator at Compañía de Minas Buenaventura S.A.A in Peru. We caught up with Brian, who provided insight into existing opportunities in the Peruvian mining industry and new trends in technology.
Ax Legal: What is your current role in Buenaventura?
Brian Pajares: Good morning, I am working on seeing diverse projects in innovation, with an incremental and disruptive approach, including open innovation, which allows creating a collaborative environment between the innovative ecosystem and Buenaventura. We always look for challenges in our different operations that need to be solved. Likewise, we are looking for innovative solutions that really make an impact on our companies mining units.
Ax Legal: Are there specific types of technologies that interest you personally?
Brian Pajares: Within innovation, we are always searching and analyzing worldwide technological trends that are happening in the mining industry and which already have good technological practices with other companies in the field. We are already beginning to explore fields such as equipment automation, “data analysis”, electric vehicles, drones, among others, and trying to make pilots with each to really test the benefits that these technologies have on our companies reality.
There are other initiatives that are being carried out, such as evaluating the usage of renewable energy which is allowing us to think about being more and more green in terms of our energy mix. We are also exploring biotechnology and its use in mine closure as a disruptive component within the mining process.
It is important to mention that the uses of modern technologies come hand in hand with large mining providers, for example, the use of automated mining equipment. Likewise, we never leave aside “start ups” that always have really innovative proposals which also need to be evaluated.
Today we are at no more than 30% in terms of technological integration in our operations, which gives us a wide window of opportunity considering the amount of technology that still can be incorporated.
Ax Legal: Are there specific problems or obstacles in Peruvian mining operations that may be different from, for example, Chile?
Brian Pajares: I think that the mining industry in general, whether in Peru, Chile or another country, will always have common problems focused on productivity, safety and sustainability. To begin to overcome them in a collaborative way, you have to think about the global innovative ecosystem.
Many interesting technology developments have come from Australia, Canada and regionally from Chile and Brazil. I think all of these countries have similar problems that we are facing in the Peruvian mining industry. In many cases, they already have proven solutions. Therefore, the challenges are common and the solutions are global in many cases ready for implementation. Of course, testing and adapting to each reality.
There are opportunities to find innovative solutions to the challenges in each of the mining industry chain processes. I consider mining to be one of the industries that paves the way for innovation and development of new technologies worldwide.
Regarding Peru, we have different types of minerals. The mixture in mineralogy of mines is very complicated. In Peru, for example, a project can have five different products. The plants are in charge of separating them but sometimes the mineralogy changes and you have to adapt, which slows down the production processes.
Another area that is urgently required is more agility in the maintenance areas, which is very slow, and at the same time complicated. The plants in some cases are ancient in Peru. There is a goal to modernize the plants with special sensors that will allow more predictive maintenance. I have also seen that in Chile today there is robotization of maintenance processes for plants, which can help to make more expeditious changes of important parts in the grinding mills, for example.
Ax Legal: If a company has a proven technology, what is the best way to introduce it to the Peruvian mining market?
Brian Pajares: In the first instance, understand the culture of the company, and its real needs. Likewise, we recommend offering a test with a pilot system of the product or service for a time necessary to know its quality, this will allow the supplier a possible opportunity to establish concrete ties with the operation and the mining company. Another important point is to have a local presence, to be able to provide immediate responses to possible problems that may arise along the way.
Ax Legal: What are the classic problems that happen with suppliers when introducing their technology in Peru?
Brian Pajares: Many suppliers do not establish direct relationships with the end customer and those in charge of the company’s innovation projects. Other issues are when suppliers are slow to provide clear answers when problems arise. As well as not having a local presence, and not being properly advised on the particularities of the Peruvian mining industry.
Peru has a wide range of opportunities, having clarity in how to present yourself to the large companies in the sector is extremely important, since the organizational culture works differently in each of the companies which are often very traditional.
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