What are Minas Buenaventura's current strategies for applying technological innovations to its operations?
We are putting in place AI in many aspects of the production chain. We have monitors all over the processing plants as well as in the mines. We are definitely applying a great deal in terms of exploration and geology. In the future, we are advancing in one important project, San Gabriel, where we expect to have a full digitalization as much as can be done but with alternative sources of energy, namely solar. We have to look at such innovations in order to be more environmentally friendly, which applies to all industries and not just mining alone.
What is the current timeline of the San Gabriel project?
Many around the world do not understand how difficult it is to do mining in Peru. San Gabriel is located 4,700m above sea level, and one can hardly breathe at that altitude. The mine was a discovery made by Buenaventura's geologists using a great deal of technology. We have been working for the last five years and are currently in the process of feasibility. We expect to start construction by 2021 and be in production by 2022 or 2023. In this project, the ideal situation is to have solar panels that could substitute diesel or other sources of energy for this specific mine. If we are able to do 100% solar energy, it will be a great achievement for us, and we are heading in that direction.
What role does Buenaventura and Peru play in the growing demand for renewable energy solutions across the globe?
Copper is the metal for infrastructure, and the main consumer of copper globally is China as well as developing countries such as India. Silver is being used heavily in solar energy, while gold is being used for specific industrial aspects as well as for jewelry, so that has great demand. People need metals, and we contribute to society in that respect. In Peru, mining has been a blessing for the country. We are in first, second, and third place for most of the metals needed by the world, and we not only need to but we have the right to add value to all those resources. Peru has been blessed with natural resources, and there is nothing wrong with mining all these natural resources for the benefit of the country, for integrating with society and to contribute with the well-being of my country in the long-term.
What are your priorities for Buenaventura and your general outlook for the mining sector for 2021?
Mining represents 10% of total GDP in Peru but represents over 50% of total exports. We need to export and are part of many free trade agreements. We have relationships with two-thirds of global GDP, with China, Japan, the US, Canada, Latin American countries, and Asia. We need to promote exports, which are mainly defined by fishing, manufacturing, agroindustry, and, most importantly, mining. The future for Buenaventura is to continue contributing to society, generating employment, generating decentralization, and overall relating ourselves to other industries. Mining is more than simply producing metals; it is an industry that is also related to other industries, and we are contributing to the Peruvian economy in that respect. Buenaventura operates in eight out of the 24 regions in Peru, and that shows how decentralized a mining company can be. We certainly contribute via professional education and are closely linked to universities such as the National University of Engineering and the Catholic University of Peru, both in Lima. We are also linked to the National University of Saint Augustine in Arequipa, the National University of Saint Anthony in Cuzco, and the National University of Cajamarca, so we are not isolated from the rest of society. We do believe in sustainability and socially responsible mining and industry in general.