Pablo Soto

President, Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (UPC) SME Student Chapter and of the Association of Mining Engineering Students of Peru

“The new era of mining is young professionals because the future of mining is young talent.”

Pablo-Altamirano-HeadshotWhat led you to join SME? For how long have you been a member?

For me the word mining means PASSION, ever since I started my career as a mining management engineer. I have been awarded a scholarship in various mining events, and in one of the events, PERUMIN 2017, there was a mining planning contest that was organized by SME, at that time I did not know much about SME.

However, I started to ask and inquire more about SME and was amazed because it was everything I was looking for.

In January 2018, I contacted Mrs. Marisa Amico, current General Manager of SME LATIN AMERICA, and with her the first chapter of SME was formed at my university that same year.

What initially led you to pursue your profession? Why have you stayed in your profession for the past 7 years?

I am from Lima, Peru, and here mining is one of the main sources of economic income. However, public opinion tries to make mining look bad, and many times they confuse illegal mining with modern and legal mining.

I consider that mining is evolving, and that is why we future professionals in the mining sector have to be aware of all these new technological trends.

One of my main objectives is for mining in Peru to be seen as an activity that is both socially, environmentally and economically responsible. Because we young people are the future of mining.

How has being an SME member enhanced or shaped your career?

It has improved in many ways. First the networking is amazing because the SME Community is very broad and has professionals related to mining in several countries. This is something enriching because I was able to learn the different realities that are lived in different parts of the world. For example, I have friends from SME Africa and we discussed how the legal issue is and what is the approach and perception of mining there.

Personally, I think that being an SME Member differentiates you from other professionals due to the great history and presence that SME has in the world and when you grow professionally you realize that it was worth being part of SME.

Favorite SME member benefit(s) to take advantage of?

Being a member of the SME has opened up a lot of opportunities and also several benefits. One of them is the OneMine virtual library, where you can find a large number of scientific articles that helped me to do my thesis.

SME helped me to develop two projects with a social focus, one of them was called MINING MOMS, this project was carried out in the city of Callahuanca, and our target audience was the mothers of families from our communities. And the other project was A NEW MINING VIEW, a project focused on the correct synergy between state, mining companies and communities.

The events and conferences as it was at MINEXCHANGE 2020 SME Annual Conference in Arizona, where my team (the first Peruvian team) went to the grand finale of the Move Mining Contest, was a unique experience.

And finally, the breakfasts, events and webinars that the SME carry out are very important and good, because the speakers are mining professionals with great experience worldwide.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of your job?

The most challenging aspects in mining are: the place where the mine is located, usually in Peru the mines are at a high level and height, and that makes it very difficult for all workers due to the lack of oxygen. Another aspect that makes it difficult to work in mining are the regimes, which are generally 14 days in the mine and 7 days at home.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of your job?

The most gratifying aspects are being able to see my family and friends happy for the work I have been doing, the great effort that is being able to work in the mine.

Another aspect that makes me happy is being able to continue contributing to mining with innovative ideas whose main objective is to reduce that great gap that exists between communities and mining companies.

Who has been key in shaping your career, and how?

During my university life I have met great professors who have supported and motivated me to keep going and continue my career.

I have had the honor of meeting Marisa Amico, she has given me her support to organize events and has given me tips on being able to organize and fulfill all my professional life goals. Having good mentors has helped me choose the right path to meet my stated goals.

In what ways have you seen the industry change since you first began your career?

It has changed in different ways, but I think the main one is that now sustainable development has become the central issue in mining. In addition to the use of new technologies that have been used in different mining processes.

The social issue is of great importance today, and this is reflected in the large number of social conflicts related to mining activity. In recent years, mining has developed social responsibility as the main axis of development.

Where do you think the industry will take you in the next decade?

I believe that it will take me to a world where the importance of minerals will be vital, a clear example is the global warming that has been occurring in recent years, and mining will be the main ally to combat global warming. For example, an electric car uses 3 times more quantity of copper than a car with gasoline.

I also believe that with mining I will have more contact with the Andean communities in Peru, because sometimes the lack of communication means that there is no correct relationship between the mining companies, communities and the state.