THE ART OF MINING
Above image: Coal miners in the work created by Mesnel, published in Le Tour du Monde, París, 1867.
What kind of art could you get out of something that consists of, for the vast majority of people not in the industry, digging large craters, breaking rocks and drilling to create tunnels? What could be so beautiful in one of these caves for it to be called art? How many muses of all these workers covered in dust come to mind when we talk about mining? Well, something does come out of all of this.
Mining – apart from the necessary activity for the development of societies as we know them and its professional atmosphere that today is directed towards respecting the environment – has also led to artistic expressions. Music, paintings, museums… among these mining has found a place.
One of the most recent well-known cases, for example, was with graffiti. Graffiti artist from León, David Esteban, who signs his works as DA2.0, paid tribute to the profession that contributed to the growth of his village, Igüeña, to maintain its memory before other alternatives that are now paving the way. His work is found in an old mining area that provided jobs to more than one thousand people. It offers a glimpse of life in the mines from years past.
The relationship between music and the search for and extraction of minerals is even more common. Maybe it is true that some artists are worth their weight in gold and that a song can last forever like a diamond. For eight years, Madrid has celebrated the Tribute to Miners Flamenco Festival, which used to be held at a mining area and has now moved to the old building of La Estación, gaining popularity in the city. Even more prestigious is the International Festival of Songs of the Mines/the Union, celebrated in Murcia, probably the most important of this genre. Its most symbolic icons are the honored winners of the contests of the festival, las lámparas mineras (mining lamps), which are a clear allusion to life in the mines.
Museology also has an interest in mines that are now inactive. For example, in Cercs, a province of Barcelona, we can delve into the world of traditional mining thanks to the Mining Museumlocated in the heart of an old, inactive lignite mine in the area of Berguedà. In the world of art exhibition, the old mining hospital of Sabero, León, is being prepared for future opening and will function as a museum starting from the beginning of 2019. The museum, which will not necessarily carry a mining theme, will take in more than one hundred pieces, sculptures, and drawings.
Lastly, one of the most beautiful artistic projects related to mining is the one where each year, artists participate in the Becas Cian-m de Fabero (scholarship for painting, sculpting, drawing), directed by a sculptor and Fine Arts professor at University Complutense, Tomás Bañuelos. Immersed in a mining landscape, eight scholars paint, sculpt, and silkscreen-print the essence and spirit of the Fabero mine.
You can say that mining is not just a source of minerals and energy; it is also a one of inspiration, and its history offers a lot. In an age where we work to create sustainable mining, we hope that future paintings related to this activity show clean and green landscapes, and the word that has been so criticized, mining, starts sounding to us like a good song.
BIODIVERSITY, A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR MINING
It is not uncommon to find different groups, platforms, social movements, etc. that portray mining as the number 1 enemy of biological diversity and its conservation. In fact, we have already talked about some of them in this blog. In some way, we can even understand why.
Traditional mining has done things to harm the environment. Those were different times. Even in the present day, there is still some controversy over open-pit mines. All of this causes alarm when a mining project lands in a region.
Though their machines may look like they are from another world, mining companies are made up of inhabitants of the Earth. They care about ecosystems, they work to optimize mines and, of course, place high importance on biodiversity in the areas where they are working.
To have a clearer idea of this type of care, we should define biodiversity: «The variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part, this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems». This means that respecting the environment isn’t just considered in the space between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. The consequences of digging below the surface must also be considered in order for a mining project to be respectful towards the environment. Biodiversity includes all living organisms and their genetic diversity, as well as all the processes that result from it.
At AYMA, we are aware of this and we are conscious of it when it comes to consulting our clients.
In the framework of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that took place in Río de Janeiro in 1992, over one hundred countries entered into an agreement on biological diversity. The idea of the agreement was to try to give clarity to definitions, such as genetic material, genetic resources and biological resources, including other terms like “artificial ecosystems”, which means native communities of the areas and their derived components and products. The goal was to create a definition and a detailed ordinance concerning respect for different areas of the planet and the violations thereof.
An agreement of this kind is especially necessary in the context of the development of new regions. Our planet has a limit and we need to be very conscious of this fact. Many of these developing countries, in fact, have implemented regulatory and fiscal reforms for the mining sector, which encourage foreign capital investment.
This not only opens the door for new ways of economy for these countries, but it is also a unique opportunity to demonstrate that mining can be done within the limits of respecting the environment. AYMA’s participation in the platformTORO Mining Consultants to take consulting to Latin American mines is our trial by fire.
This is our moment to demonstrate that today’ mining is committed to conserving the planet’s biodiversity.
TORO MINING: COMPLETE CONSULTING ARRIVES IN SOUTH AMERICA
If at AYMA we push you beyond your limits, at TORO we give you a shove. What is TORO and why do we refer to it in the first person? We’ll explain.
Toro Mining Consultants is the result of a strategic union of five highly qualified consulting companies who are leaders in their respective sectors, among which includes AYMA Mining Solutions. Our objective as a whole is to provide services to Latin American mining. Just as we have done with clients in other countries, where we have achieved optimal results, our goal is to help the Latin American sector to surpass their expectations and add value to their businesses.
Given the sum of experience coming together in this project, we know that the important thing is to work in a way that optimally combines results, resources, safety, and a minimal impact on the environment. It is for this reason and thanks to the large team of professionals that we are able to cover all areas of mining and offer the following mining services:
Optimization. As mentioned in the above paragraph, optimization is what is most important; designing a plan so that the mine is safe, productive and efficient, with minimal costs.
Drilling and blasting. We offer consulting to optimize businesses and help them achieve the best results. We help them solve problems related to the behavior of embankments, optimal fragmentation, vibrations … Each mine is a different reality because the materials used in each case have distinctive characteristics. Toro studies each case, proposes solutions and creates a team to obtain the best results.
Planning. For both open-pit and underground mines, we look for the best and most cost-efficient model for the job.
Geotechnics and geology. Before starting any activity, it is necessary to know what is underground. We study the layers below the surface to make sure that drilling can be done without any risks and that we will actually find the minerals we are trying to extract.
Hydrogeology and hydrology. Mine drainage, evaluation and prevention of groundwater contamination.
Environment. Working with the Earth’s surface involves a huge responsibility with respect to the environment. Mining of the 21stcentury stands for a sustainable model of mining, where resources can be obtained without damaging the ecosystem. This is why we conduct comprehensive waste management, adhering to environmental regulations and taking special precautions in safely closing mines and mine water treatment.
In summary, at TORO Mining we are mining – and we are taking it to South America, offering consulting services and mine management and operation without additional costs for large infrastructures, with an excellent quality-price ratio. Above all, we are a safe platform – without doubts or risks. You ask questions and we give you concrete answers about what to do and how to do it. Our objective is to become a leading consulting firm for Latin American mining by helping our clients and offering our best resources and work. Hard work.
THE REBIRTH OF MINING IN LATIN AMERICA
After the fall in the price of copper in 2014, mining in Latin American countries went through a rough couple of years with very few hopes for the future. From that year until the beginning of 2017, the falling of prices was constant, especially for copper. Moreover, the few changes that did occur during this time were all going from bad to worse.
However, an international political and economical change in February of 2017 brought a glimpse of hope for the future. These prospects have been alive for over a year and are now a reality. The increase in the demand for raw materials during that year caused prices to increase. The major producers, iron ore in Brazil and copper in Chile, have been responsible for the economic upturn in the region. Peru has also played an important role in the growth of economic activity.
Chile. In 2015, the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) estimated a series of mining projects valued at 105,000 million dollars until 2023, $80,000 of which corresponded to mining development and copper-related production. Chile’s objective is to go from the 6 million tons of copper produced in 2015 to 8.5 million tons by 2025.
This South American country has various mining projects and strong investments to achieve this objective, although it has faced some obstacles, such as a rise in the cost of resources, especially in the energy sector.
Brazil. Brazil is the largest producer of iron ore and has the largest iron ore mines in the world, which places it as one of the giants in this market, and the aim is to continue growing to convert iron ore into one of its greatest economic resources. The country has over 40,000 million dollars in projects. The Carajás S11D mine in Vale, one of the most important projects since its beginning four years ago with an investment of 19,670 million, was aimed at producing 90 million tons annually when it reached its maximum output in 2018. This objective was achieved a year before expected.
Peru. Peru is earning its place among the biggest mining producers thanks to its diversity of metals extracted, the main element among which is copper. Since 2016, it has kept production at 2.8 million tons, after a major growth from 2013 until that year. Among its most significant projects are Las Bambas, Conga, and Cerro Verde.
These countries are the three leaders in the Latin American mining industry today.
Other projects are emerging at a slower pace. Without a doubt, Latin America has become one of the major focal points of investment and mineral extractionin the world over the last five years. This upturn has brought a highly positive change in the outlook of economic activity in the region, opening doors to new investors and mining companies.
AYMA MINING SOLUTIONS OPENS ITS NEW OFFICE IN MADRID
We don’t know the meaning of barriers. If our slogan is We help you go beyond your limits, how could we not also strive to go beyond our own? AYMA Mining Solutions opens its new office in Madrid, offering a range of professional services for AYMA and taking it into a new field: construction, particularly industrial construction.
Our new office is directed by Bernardo Gómez Delgado, project manager and Andalusian architect with more than fifteen years of experience developing projects in the construction, urban planning, civil and industrial engineering sectors. He has worked on projects in Spain, Peru, Santo Domingo, Mexico, Colombia, Jordan, and Morocco, and some of his buildings are known to be among the best European architecture. A major project he completed for the Public Port Authority of Andalusia was the remodeling of the Terrón (Lepe) or Centerario Park fishing port and marina, sponsored by the Port Authority of Algeciras and constructed by Acciona.
In the industrial and mining sectors, he has worked on a variety urban projects, implementing mining activities in Andalusian communities and the facilities at the TECNOMA laboratory (now part of TYPSA) in Mairena del Aljarafe. For four years, he was in charge of building design in the industrial department at OHL, working on projects related to oil and gas, mining and cement, and renewable energies. Noteworthy EPC projects he completed for AYMA include the factory Ecocementos in Colombia, the thermo-solar plant Arenales in Morón de la Frontera, and the re-pumping station Degollado in Mexico.
The AYMA office in Madrid will now be responsible for aligning construction activities with client needs, combining experience gained using the latest technology.
Three words define the character of the office: versatility, innovation, and experience.
Versatility in a changing world
It is an undeniable fact that we live in a constantly changing environment. Knowing how to get around in this environment requires constant observation and thinking outside the limits of our comfort zone in order to get the most out of each situation. According to AYMA’s director, this is the everyday attitude at the new office in Madrid. The office itself is a great example of this attitude. Located in Madwork, a modern and dynamic co-working, it is an open space without cubicles or closed rooms that waxes and wanes, adapting to the needs of each moment, with the best team of professionals that respond to each situation. The internal workflow follows an agile model, going above the top-down organizational structure. Clients are present during all phases of the project, working side by side with the team during the entire development process of the final product.
Innovation as core value
AYMA chooses innovative tools and methods to guarantee the best results for their projects. Choosing digitalization is clear. BIM methodology is the basis of projects in construction and allows us to work with data rather than designs. Digitalization – another characteristic of the company is paper-free – allows for tracking all the information about a specific project, as well as cross-platform search. Additionally, it provides access to information from anywhere, which is in accordance with transparent, collaborative, and remote workplace policies that will be implemented in the office.
Another important effort is continuous research, which is necessary in order to apply technological advances to the workplace on a day to day basis. This is why the team performs lines of research that don’t directly apply to the projects we are developing, but ones that optimize the way we work in our office and open new doors of opportunity.
One of these doors of opportunity is opened through virtual and augmented reality, which allows us to make use of the models we have already used in the engineering phase and use them in the construction, operation, and maintenance phases. As a demonstration, in the inauguration of the AYMA office in Madrid the attendees were able to see projects carried out using VR.
Technology + Experience
We combine both innovation and the experience of having completed projects in different sectors in the world of construction. This experience has provided us with the big picture, which allows us to anticipate problems long before they occur, to prioritize what we know is important, and to ensure that expectations are fulfilled.
A well-known slogan in 1995 stated that power is nothing without control. Today, we can say that technological innovation is nothing without profound knowledge of the sector to which you are applying it. Adapting is crucial in order to achieve higher productivity, reduce errors, save money, and improve construction processes. It is clear to us that in order to do so, experience is fundamental.
New problem-solving tools and the experience to know how to foresee problems before they happen.
WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT MINING
It is difficult for mining to make friends.It’s not too popular and that’s a fact. It is perceived as an irresponsible practice that destroys landscapes and causes environmental damage.
We just don’t understand to be honest.
In fact, the opposite should be true since everyone likes what is produced by this irresponsible practice. Do you remember when we talked about the movement Not in my backyard? NIMBY, the abbreviation which was the hash tag of the movement, #NIMBY. What was that? The hash tag! And where are hash tags used? In social media. And what do you need in order to use social media? A computer or a smart phone to be exact. What unpopular activity is necessary to obtain the materials with which they are manufactured? You get the idea.
The latest technologies, however, are not the only reason mining exists today. We have been living with and benefiting from mining for centuries, and in this day and age, one thing is for sure; it is absolutely necessary. To explain why, we will briefly review the most popular raw materials that are mined today and the type of objects and everyday resources that are made from them. Get ready to appreciate mining.
Copper. Copper is obtained by mining and in general, it is the nervous system of all electrical appliances that you use in your daily life. Even your house itself is an electrical appliance.
The next time you turn on your living room light, don’t forget to say, “thank you, mining”.
Iron ore. Iron ore is another material extracted from rocks and turned into steel through a refining process. Iron is used in the structures of houses, buildings, and all types of transportation. In today’s world, it is crucial. Now you know what you have to say when you get on a train or use your car.
Aluminum. Aluminum is another metal that is mined. It is also used in transportation and in a higher quantity than iron, since it is lighter and equally resistant. However, the use of aluminum is less technologically demanding and is used a lot more for things you see on the street. Soda cans, bikes (which don’t pollute the air), some street furniture, appliances or kitchen facilities, etc.
Mining – you don’t want it in your backyard, but in your kitchen, you do.
Other metals are mined as well, including lead, gold, zinc, the last of which is the least well-known and is used in construction, transport, household appliances, and engineering.
It doesn’t just stop there. We’ve talked about metals, but there are other non-metallic materials, and it would be difficult to imagine life without them today.
Calcium Carbonate. In our daily lives, this mineral is mainly used in cosmetic products, although it has many other uses.
Gypsum. This mineral is present in every modern construction, such as houses, tall buildings, stadiums, etc. It is one of the mined minerals with the highest demand and usage.
Supporting respect for the environment is necessary. At AYMA, we fight for a new way of mining that is sustainable and promotes recoverability and even improvement of the mining area. We know that if mining is necessary, which you have seen that indeed it is, then it is our duty to carry out this activity with the highest degree of social responsibility possible. We are advancing towards better mining for the planet and a better future for everyone.
NIMBY, NOT IN MY BACKYARD – AN UNFOUNDED FEAR
For many years, a movement on an international level has existed under the acronym NIMBY, which stands for the English phrase, Not In My Back Yard. In the language of Cervantes, no en mi patio trasero. What does it mean? It is a platform against construction projects such as airports, prisons, dumps, nuclear centers, re-housing buildings, train tracks, wind farms, etc., the type of things that you wouldn´t want to have constructed near your house, or your back yard so to speak, so it doesn´t affect your surrounding environment.
What happens when demagogy and lack of agreement and understanding come into play without reason?
It affects projects that traditionally have a stigma of destroying the environment, when few or none actually do so. Instead, they promote sustainable development, which is the case in mining engineering.
There is a high level of misinformation and hypocrisy, as pointed out by Antonio García Muñoz, managing partner of Specialized Area in the Mining Sector of Lener, in his article Mining, demagogy y sustainability. “We see how none of these platforms advocate abandoning the use of minerals, yet they do not mention eliminating mobile phones, vehicles, electricity… The pseudo-ecological demagogy prevails over established values of the EU.
We all want to benefit from the extraction of minerals yet say that mines are destroying the environment.
Aside from the demagogic weight that it may carry, this idea is like rowing upstream. Mining of the 21st century is one of the pioneers shifting toward the fight against climate change, adopting plans of exploiting the land that not only optimize benefits for companies and the environment, but also fulfill a program that respects the environment, which include land rehabilitation and improvement once the activity is completed, the reduction of gas emissions, and significant advances in safety concerns for both workers and nearby urbanizations. These measures have helped in the reopening of mines that had been closed for years, reactivating and improving the landscape.
The European Union does not hesitate to refer to mining as the main path to sustainable development in the upcoming years.
The mission of engineering consultants of the 21st century –like AYMA– is the extraction of minerals in accordance with strict environmental standards, fortunately put in place by the EU, those where there is no room for dogmatic stances that create no benefit for sustainable development, such as the negligent practices of the NIMBY movement.
WHAT WE THOUGHT ABOUT MINES
When we talk about 21st-century mining, we are referring to a way of promoting activities that seek to detach mining from the negative image of this industry, which has traditionally been associated with the exploitation of the land and the workers, such as its reputation in the Far East, where the value on gold and diamonds was placed above the workers lives, which were sold to this business. With respect to nature, an environment existed where carbon dioxide wasn´t part of the subject matter in schools.
Mining broke that stigma a long time ago.
At least it has done so internally, and there is a list of short-term objectives for its public image, sustained in four pillars –respect for the environment, technological innovation, work safety, and social responsibility. The achievement of this list is what we understand as 21st-century mining.
Nowadays, the sector as a whole shares a profound consciousness of the importance of interiorizing these values. This consciousness comes from the companies following this path to the government, which will not grant a permit unless they are convinced of strict compliance with the regulations with regard to these four pillars. In fact, this was a hot topic at the Metallic Mining Hall, celebrated in Seville in October of 2017.
We are at a perfect moment for demonstrating this commitment, with the reactivation of old mines in Spain, mainly in Andalusia, caused primarily by this change in attitude. In his article The remaining course in 21st-Century Mining, Jose Luis Bionilla discusses the stigma of mining, referring to its conceptualization in textbooks, where descriptions given to students appear phrases such as “the air is polluted by dust and is deposited in plants and asphyxiates them”, “rivers are contaminated, as water is used to clean the minerals that are extracted”, “through the extraction of minerals leaves landscapes desolate, without living resources”, “dangers for miners include collapse of the mine, exposure to explosive gases, and lung diseases”. They are outdated messages with an archaic tone. It would be like defining today´s public transport as wooden stagecoaches pulled by horses that cannot reach more than 70 kilometers per hour, and with the possibly of being attacked by the Dalton brothers.
Mining of this century is dedicated to the re-education of the population about the mining sector.
Make everyone fundamentally aware that there are safe working conditions and respect for the environment. Currently, in fact, once mining activity has finished, the land is reconstructed, returning plants back into the condition they were found before the process began. One case about environmental consciousness in Spain that stands out is from the company, Berkeley, whose project in Salamanca backed by the European Union consideres supporting the supply of clean energy and the planting of 30.000 oak trees in the area. Cobre Las Crucesis also one of the pioneering mines in Mining in the 21stCentry.
Among the plans to carry out the re-education about mines are visits to the actual mining facilities in order to inform the public about the history of this industry. In Andalusia, for example, the Mining Park that manages Foundation Rio Tintohas a Mining Museum and offers a tour through fabulous landscapes on an old train that was used in the past to transport minerals to the port of Huelva. In addition, there are visits to mining areas that are no longer active.
This plan for re-education is, without a doubt, a great initiative for teaching the public and for mining to be portrayed as it should be to society.