Industrias Peñoles is a private company based in Mexico, part of the Groupo BAL, operating in the metallurgical mining sector with more than eight thousand employees. It is the largest producer of silver in the world, the largest producer of gold in Mexico and one of the world’s main producers of zinc, its core business being the discovery and exploitation of mines.

Established in 1887, the company survived the Mexican Revolution and two world wars, yet one of its greatest challenges came along when the first computer was installed in 1974. “One of our most important goals was to implement a system that would manage the multitude of information that came from the laboratory as a result of the drilling process,” explains Mario Antonio Gonzàlez Negrete, chief information officer, Industrias Peñoles.

Representing vital data graphically

Data from core samples is used to determine locations to develop new mines, how best to continue to explore existing ones, and provide the graphic support to make those decisions. “The whole information process can result in a graphic representation showing us all the available options,” says Negrete. “This enables us to improve our operations, improve our processes, reduce our costs and improve our profitability.”

For more than 27 years, Industrias Peñoles has worked in partnership with HP.

“We were looking for products that would allow us to do things better and more efficiently. The importance of these things is tremendous because the risks of not calculating correctly and not designing a mine properly are high,” Negrete continues. “HP offers added value in its new technologies, as well as high levels of quality in both its staff and its products. There is no doubt in my mind that working alongside HP has been a very successful experience for us.”

Support to fit the client’s needs

The integration of IT support and graphical output comes under the auspices of the communication and information technology resource management department. Marco Julio Ramos has the responsibility of evaluating the input from the users – geologists, architects and civil engineers – and looking at the market for the best solutions.

“HP has helped us in a variety of ways,” Ramos says. “They understand our business and have helped us to choose the best printers for our requirements by allowing us to try them out before we buy them. They have offered us the latest technological innovations, and helped us in not so positive moments by offering us financial solutions. In fact, ten years ago, Peñoles was the first company outside the United States to be supported by HP Financial Services, for server, printers and PC contracts.”

The remoteness of Industrias Peñoles’ operations has presented challenges. “In some places, there are no highways, no airports, no cars, and no bus stations,” says Ramos. “HP has worked with local partners with local knowledge to ensure delivery and installation of printers.”

Colour coded high-resolution mine maps

The fleet of HP Designjet printers currently used all over Mexico by Peñoles includes the latest HP Designjet T1100 MFP (multifunction printer) series that offers high-resolution images of up to 9600dpi and a broad greyscale range using HP Vivera inks. The printer also incorporates three-CCD camera scanning technology.

“Each colour on the map shows us what they have found in their locations, and from this we can draw up project and infrastructure maps for each of these mines,” says Graciela Hernández, real estate manager, Industrias Peñoles. “As an old company, we often use very old plans, so our new printers enable us to scan the documents and digitise them. Then we can either print new ones, or email them to the mines, reducing both time and costs.”

Using data from topographical surveys and mineral analyses from boreholes, information is integrated and sent to an HP Designjet printer. Examination of the high-resolution maps enables determining the location of the next borehole, decisions about developing a mine, or making inferences about the suitability for future operations.

“Having good prints of these plans allows us to have a better idea of what we are really looking for,” says Leopldo Núñez Rodríguez, a company geographer. “Apart from the printing being a speedy process, it allows us to be able to differentiate between the different kinds of rock, as well as defining mineral zones that we can exploit in the coming years. Having this visual data means that we can make decisions quickly.”