Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2018

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www.e-mj.com E&MJ • AUGUST 2018 83 MINING IN PERU ings dam expansions, as well as construction of explosive storage facilities. Mucho was critical when asked about the main challeng- es for mining investment in Peru: "The main enemy of Peru's development is the State itself. Considering all the permits needed to make an investment, we need to solve the issue of moving licenses in a timely manner –otherwise, it is impossible for the country to move forward," he said. A level-playing field If corruption has proven to be a deep problem for contractors when trying to win projects for public institutions, Peru's very open market for private investment pushed competition to the limits during the downcycle, when outsiders were desperate to win their first contract in the country, and clients were looking for the lowest costs possible. Cristopher Varas, general manager of Grupo Vivargo, a local lifting and installation specialist, saw a number of its construction clients af- fected by the Lava Jato scandal, and also had to face very aggressive competition from outsiders. He related: "When the rates go below the average, you know that something is wrong. In Chile, companies really make sure that no-one offers a price that would result in safety issues later –in Chilean tenders you have bottom-line prices below which you cannot even participate." Varas said that during the crisis he saw providers offering a 50% discount on the market average, especially foreign companies that just wanted to enter the Peruvian market. "At the end of the day, Peruvian companies that invest locally and obtain financing through the local bank lose an opportunity." Luckily, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the reactivation of mining investment which has allowed Grupo Vivargo to have a 90% occupation rate in its equipment rental fleet. "We are doing quite a lot of maintenance projects and we are also seeing good levels of activity in Chile, which creates synergies and al- lows us to move the equipment between the two countries depending on the demand", said Varas. Beyond its lifting and installation equipment, Grupo Vivargo also offers project logistics with heavy and oversized cargo services, while a third business line is related to warehouse and inventory manage- ment in the mines. Underground niches Beyond the potential for large-scale underground mines discussed above, Peru already has a rich history in underground mining, with a wide variety of operations from the very small narrow-vein mines to highly mechanized medium-sized operations. Robocon, one of the key contractors offering rock support through shotcrete application, is currently focused on narrower tunnel devel- opment, as per its clients' demands. "Typically, our clients have faces of four by four meters, but now they want to advance in tunnels of three by three meters [...] Through Tecnomecánica, our technologi- cal arm, we are developing new machines in collaboration with other manufacturers in Peru and abroad that already have some technolo- gies for narrow-vein operations," said Enrique Sattler, managing di- rector at Robocon. Robocon has been working for Volcan (now Glencore) since 2005 and for Pan American Silver's Huarón and Morococha mines since 2012. When discussing Robocon's most recent activity, Sattler com- mented: "We started operations in Tambomayo and Uchucchacua for Buenaventura, and we began working in Yanacocha in 2017, in col- laboration with AESA. Our most recent client is Sociedad Minera Austria Duvaz, where we are transitioning from a dry shotcrete opera- tion to a mechanized, wet shotcrete opera- tion, in narrow tunnels." Meanwhile Tumi, a raise boring contrac- tor, has increased its involvement in pro- duction drilling thanks to the development of the SBM 400 SR machine. While raise boring has traditionally been used for venti- lation needs, Marc Blattner, Tumi's general manager, explained the usage of the SR ma- chine: "What we do is a burn hole: a hole in the center of the blast zone, which provides a cavity for the blast area to collapse into. The SR model is not only an upgrade of our traditional raise boring machine, but it is actually a new method of production which did not exist before." In 2017, Tumi grew from 11 to 15 crews, three of which are dedicated to production activities, and is also expanding into Chile, where the company expects to grab boxhole contracts with Codelco at El Teniente. As a company that engineers and develops its own machines, increased mining activity worldwide may result in more revenues coming from the outright sale of equipment to miners, commented Blattner: "We will see Tumi's growth coming not just from contracting, but also selling machines into the Peruvian market, which so far we have tried not to do. It seems that the mines are going back to the mentality of the 1970s inasmuch as they want to buy their own equipment again. We are flexible enough to offer to run the equipment ourselves with a con- tract, or provide all the maintenance, and also to train our clients' operators if required." Cristopher Varas, general manager, Grupo Vivargo.

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