"The challenge for the construction sector is to not overreact to any situation and also take a longer-term view, using this time as an opportunity to be creative and innovative, incorporate new technology and be more productive and sustainable."
How were you able to maintain supply chain continuity amid the pandemic?
Our people’s health and safety has always been our top priority and since the pandemic started we have taken the necessary precautions to reduce risks of exposure and keep our staff and sites safe. Covid-19 impacted our business regarding costs and schedule, as we now have to take extra sanitary measures. However, we never stopped production and are still servicing the mining sector and the pulp and paper industry in the north and south of Chile respectively. Echeverria Izquierdo has approximately 8,000 employees in all our countries of operation, and we are fortunate and proud to be still growing during tough times.
Social unrest in the country caused the temporary closure of many offices and forced people to work from home. Therefore, when the pandemic hit, we were better prepared to quickly adapt to a more virtual working environment and minimise disruption on our projects.
Can you highlight some of the projects Echeverria Izquierdo is working on in Chile?
Echeverria Izquierdo is currently working on the primary crusher at Teck’s Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project located in northern Chile, which includes overland conveyors, a stockpile and reclaim tunnels. The pandemic has had some impact on the project schedule, but we still have approximately 1,000 people deployed on site. We are also working on a lithium project in Antofagasta with Albemarle. Our largest project is the MAPA Arauco expansion project for the pulp and paper industry, where we are the main contractor for the new facility.
How is Echeverria Izquierdo incorporating more technological advancements into operations to minimize operational costs?
The construction sector has been slow to incorporate new technologies. Echeverria Izquierdo has an innovation department with a strong focus on the digital transformation of our activities to increase the productivity and thus our competitiveness. We are moving towards digitizing our warehouse and operations to shift everything online. Covid-19 has accelerated our efforts to become more digitally orientated in our business. We are also increasing the use of new and modernized equipment in our operations, especially with regards to semi-automated welding equipment as well as last generation equipment.
Precast is another innovative solution that we are implementing in our operations. A successful example of this is the entire foundation of the QB2 stockpile that will be precast at sea level and then assembled on-site. Our goal is to increase our efficiency and productivity and reduce people on site wherever possible.
What trends are you witnessing across the industry today?
Despite the increase of metal prices and promising demand outlook, we observe moderation in the large mining companies as they do not dramatically change their long-term investment plans based on the current market environment. However, there are some initiatives that could take advantage of the current scenario, opportunities to advance schedules and grow project portfolios over the coming years. The challenge for the construction sector is to not overreact to any situation and also take a longer-term view, using this time as an opportunity to be creative and innovative, incorporate new technology and be more productive and sustainable.
Echeverria Izquierdo is currently focused on Chile and Peru. Does the company have any expansion plans?
We are currently focused on consolidating our operations in Peru and we will gradually expand our operations if the opportunity arises. The Ecuadorian mining industry is starting to attract attention. The company also has substantial experience in the pulp and paper industry, and Paraguay holds significant opportunities for us in this regard.
What is Echeverria Izquierdo strategy to consolidate and grow its market share?
Obtaining the QB2 and MAPA projects has been significant to the company’s growth. We are one of the leading players in the Chilean construction and industrial erection space, and we aim to continue growing in both Chile and Peru building long term relations with our clients, grounded on our strong ethical values and committed to sustainable development.