"Optimism is setting the tone of our work going forward because the government is recognizing the industry’s importance, and mining will be fundamental to Peru’s economic recovery."
How was 2020 for Robocon and how did the pandemic impact your business?
2020 was a challenging year, as was the case for many businesses in Peru, because we had to pause operations for three months due to the enforced lockdown. We had to implement new protocols such as working from home and stricter sanitary measures regarding pandemic protection of our people; but fortunately, today (February 2021), we have returned to pre-pandemic production rates. We noticed demand increases in Q4 2020 related to base and precious metals price increases, and our clients’ needs to ramp up production.
What are some of the main projects Robocon has worked on in the last two years?
The projects Robocon participates in tend to have long time-frames: we retain the majority of our partners and focus on recurring business for key clients including Volcan, Pan American Silver, Minsur and Buenaventura. The impetus of the market has been favorable, and we have been able to produce positive results despite challenges to supply chains and temporary closures of equipment manufacturers. Maintenance of equipment has been particularly difficult due to issues sourcing parts, also with new equipment delivery times. However, the mechanization of shotcrete in small tunnels, merging from dry to wet shotcrete, remains in high demand, as a service working with the mine or integrated with a contractor.
Can you explain the benefits of some of the new innovations in the shotcrete market, including laser technology?
Robotized wet shotcrete technology offers considerable benefits in terms of safety and speed, regardless of the operation’s size. In robotics-led operations, risk is minimized and efficiency is maximized. Introduction of laser technology has been an important focus for Robocon. For mines that rely on small tunnels, speed of processes is key, especially because it can contribute directly to profitability. Every day we see more mines interested on small equipment for wet shotcrete.
How is Robocon becoming a more vertically integrated business to better serve clients?
Besides the shotcrete equipment, we offer the provision of all the services and materials related to concrete and shotcrete operations, including cement and additives, transportation of materials, implementation of best solutions for concrete production and delivery, batching plants and slick lines design, construction and maintenance etc. This allows us to have a bigger impact.
Also, Robocon offers services of training and EFNARC certification for operators – we extend the standards of quality that characterize our workers to third parties. We want to become a point of reference for shotcrete in Latin America.
An important area where we collaborate with clients is in the monitoring of tunnels, as well as in material consulting for shotcrete, impermeabilizations, rock support and equipment searching. Robocon also offers pre-manufactured concrete and maintenance services for our client’s equipment.
We have a sister company, Tecnomecánica, that is in charge of maintenance and technology improvements, as well. Our partnership synergies ensure that we can comply with all current certification requirements and can adapt processes to the particular needs of every client.
Which jurisdictions outside of Peru do you see as having high potential for growth?
Mexico, Colombia, and Chile are three markets we are focused on because of the ease in which we can enter and operate. Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia have interesting geological potential, however, due to the political context it is now more challenging.
What are Robocon’s main objectives for the next 12 months?
Service provision is a business of slim margins, therefore closures can have a drastic impact on our balance sheet. Risk is very high, and our aim is to minimize the possibility of business interruptions by ensuring we accommodate very thoroughly to health protocols and continue to provide the best quality service to our clients. We want to increase quality executing the contracts negotiated last year; equipment maintenance and the manufacturing of new equipment will be two key areas. Optimism is setting the tone of our work going forward because the industry’s importance is being recognized by government, and mining will be fundamental to Peru’s economic recovery.