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Santiago Cardona

COLOMBIA - Energy & Mining

Santiago Cardona

Vice President, Mineros S.A. for Colombia


Santiago Cardona Múnera is a mechanical engineer from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a specialist in project management. He is currently the Vice President of Mineros S.A. for Colombia. He joined the company in 2004 as an intern and has served in different strategic positions, from leadership to management, contributing to the organizational evolution and the achievement of results year after year. Since 2018, he has led the Colombia work team with the growth of the group as a goal, aiming at the projection and expansion of the company in the foreign market.

Headquartered in Colombia and with over 47 years of experience, Mineros has been listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange since 1976 and is currently working toward a second listing in Toronto.

Your profits increased by 70% in 2020 despite all the challenges. To what do you attribute the positive performance?

These past 18 months have been very atypical, and have pushed us to innovate, improve and transform how we think and act. Since the start of the pandemic, Colombian authorities allowed mining companies to continue working, so we had to change shifts, reduce personnel per shift and postpone some investments and activities, but thankfully, that did not have a significant impact on our production. We work continuously to improve our processes and have recently increased our investments in innovation and new technologies, looking to reduce production costs and cut-off grades that will hopefully reflect as a longer life of the alluvial mine. Our growth in consolidated net profits in 2020 is mainly explained by a 6% lower production, accompanied by a 25% increase in gold spot prices, keeping controls in costs and expenses.

What is the company’s ESG agenda, and how does Mineros contribute to Colombia by way of tax payments?

Our corporate ESG strategy is based on three pillars common to all of our geographies: employee health and safety, community development, and environmental stewardship, though every objective and program is designed according to each regions’ needs. For example, in Nicaragua we focus on education, in Colombia we focus on entrepreneurship, and in Argentina we focus on providing access to potable water. During the pandemic, we provided aid to our host communities, delivering food, drinkable water, protection items, supplies for local health centers, and education campaigns. In Colombia, we ran a solidarity campaign among our employees that was equally matched by the company and raised close to USD134,000. During 2020, we contributed USD25 million in tax payments in Colombia. In addition, through Works for Taxes, a mechanism that allows companies in Colombia to use up to 50% of their income tax to directly finance and execute public projects, we will invest USD12 million to pave the road that connects El Bagre to national highways.

How does Mineros promote inclusion in its operations?

Our corporate hiring policy states that our human talent recruiting process is based on principles of equity, independence and transparency, focused on generating quality, stable, legal and adequately remunerated employment, respecting social and sexual condition, race or gender, focusing on the technical and human qualities required by the Organization, and giving priority to people form host communities. In Colombia, we are working jointly with USAID on two programs, Avancemos Bajo Cauca, which provides training and education to promote entrepreneurship, and Mujeres de Oro, which focuses on empowering women and providing them with education to help them become economically independent. We strongly believe in the importance of the role of women in society and workforce. We feel responsible for providing high quality employment opportunities that will help with the economic and social development of women and ethnic communities in our regions of influence.

What are the advantages of having projects in different countries?

One of our strategic pillars is geographic diversification to mitigate risk; for example, it would be unlikely to have an economic downturn in the three countries at the same time. We also find advantages as economies of scale, experienced teams in other countries that can share knowledge of different mining methods and technologies, sharing different cultures and best practices and adding new points of view for problem solving.

How is Mineros committed to the economic reactivation of the country?

We have close to 924 direct employees in Colombia, and we recruit prioritizing local talent. In addition, in our purchasing process, we favor suppliers from our host communities. In addition to our inclusion programs and investment in paving roads, we also have initiatives that provide economic and social development alternatives, separate from the mining industry, such as, bee keeping, fish farming and rubber plantations, among others.



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