Leading Consultancy Firm Expanding Internationally
BISA has been playing a leading role in Peru’s economy for more than 36 years, serving as a benchmark in the mining, engineering, construction and other sectors. BISA is well known for its high international standards and for its diverse expertise, including concerning environmental protection. A 100% Peruvian company, BISA is currently boosting its presence in international markets. José Vizquerra, Executive Director and Carlos Alarco, CEO, describe the company’s accomplishments and goals.
USTV: Can you tell us about BISA’s history?
BISA: BISA has 36 years of experience and has completed more than 3,800 projects. BISA was created in 1977 by the mining company Buenaventura to provide consultancy support concerning geological issues. This happened during the military regime when Cerro de Pasco was nationalized and a lot of geologists stopped working there. These geologists suggested that Buenaventura should set up a company dedicated to providing geological advice and consultancy. Buenaventura’s projects steadily became more and more complex, for example because of the need to do preliminary environmental and other studies, so BISA developed new consultancy services concerning mining, the environment and engineering. In this first period of its history, BISA focused on serving its clients and performing its services, mainly studies. The company began to grow rapidly.
At the end of the 1990s, the mining company Yanacocha also called on BISA for consultancy support. Yanacocha was already working with the international consultancy group Fluor, but was happy with BISA’s performance and suggested cooperation between Fluor and BISA. BISA began to develop the international standards for which Fluor is known. Both Yanacocha and Fluor operate according to exceptionally high standards, and BISA made these standards part of its own corporate culture. This was BISA’s second period, during which the company developed world-class engineering consultancy, supervision and technical standards. By 2007, Fluor and BISA had 200 to 300 people working in the field for Yanacocha.
In 2007, Yanacocha changed its relationship with BISA to one where BISA would be employed by the project instead of by the month. As a consequence, BISA sought new clients besides just Yanacocha, and the company’s third period began. BISA began to work with mining companies like Cerro Verde, Antamina, Southern Copper and El Brocal. Today, we continue to work with Buenaventura but we have expanded even more our clientele with Hochschild Mining, Volcan, Horizonte, Shougang, Chinalco, Gold Fields and others. Every mining company in Peru has worked with BISA, in fact. We have also expanded our services to cover Oil & Gas and infrastructure projects as well as projects in other areas.
BISA’s fourth period began in around 2009 when BISA began to manage, supervise and execute some construction projects for Buenaventura. In 2012, BISA Construction was launched and today it is one of BISA’s most profitable units. BISA now has three management units: the technical-studies unit, which handles geological and mining studies, laboratory testing and research, environmental-impact studies and more; the engineering unit, the largest of the three, which employs 350 of our workers and prepares information needed for construction projects, basic and detail engineering and supervises the construction for our clients; and BISA Construction, which handles earth movement, civil engineering and other construction issues.
USTV: Can you describe some of BISA’s biggest projects to date?
BISA: For us, all our clients are important. In fact one of BISA’s key values is adaptability. We do not view any of our projects as small, but if I had to single out “big” initiatives I would single out our project with Glencore to build a new city, Nueva Fuerabamba, associated to Las Bambas mining Project. This is a resettlement of around 400 families to move them outside a mining-operations site. BISA is building some of the family houses, a school for more than 500 students, a medical center and a training center. Another recent project for BISA was to provide assistance to mining company El Brocal in boosting its production capacity to 18,000 tons per day. We supplied engineering and construction-management services for this project. We also recently completed a project to create a system to transport lead, zinc and other concentrates and minerals directly from a storage facility to the Port of Callao through a modern Pipe Conveyor. This project greatly benefits the environment because these minerals will no longer need to be transported to the port by truck. We provided engineering and construction management for this project. We have also recently completed the basic and detailed engineering for Tambomayo Project, and many other projects, and we are currently working on framework engineering contract initiatives for Antamina, Southern Peru, Chinalco and Buenaventura.
USTV: Around 60% of BISA’s business is international. What are BISA’s plans concerning international expansion?
BISA: Some mining companies that work in Peru, such as Antamina and Southern Copper, have foreign capital, but we consider them to be local clients since the work they request from us is done in Peru. Over the past few years, we have started to work on projects outside Peru as well. We have opened an engineering office in Argentina, where in 2013 we began working on two projects for Barrick Argentina and on two more projects for Hochschild Mining Argentina, which has operations in Patagonia. We have also completed a Preliminary Economic Assesment for Salazar Resources (El Domo Project) in Ecuador; this was a study to help the company list on the stock market in Vancouver and look for investors. BISA was able to do this study because we have geologists who are certified as QP (Qualified Person) in accordance with the Canadian National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101, or the National Instrument for the Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects within Canada). We have also provided consultancy support for a company in Guatemala, Tahoe Resources, concerning its concentration plant. This year we signed a contract with a mining company in Nicaragua through which we are providing consultancy services to help the company optimize its mining methods. In Brazil, we are working with a Peruvian company that has bought a mine there. I think that a lot of Latin American countries see Peru as the country with the most experience in all kind of metals and minerals, and in Peru BISA is seen as the most experienced consultancy company as well as the one that provides the best solutions. We feel very proud that we have been helping companies in other countries and that we are recognized at the international level.
USTV: What other countries is BISA targeting for projects?
BISA: We are looking into projects in Honduras, Panama and Cuba and we have been receiving calls from companies operating in these countries. Peru has hundreds of years of experience in the mining sector and has always been a mining country. Today, the Peruvian mining sector has earned a reputation for its high standards not only in mining itself but also concerning environmental and social issues. Over the short term we would like to have a presence in Chile, a difficult challenge not only because it is an important mining country but also because Chile has top-level engineering-consultancy companies. For this purpose we recently participated in the trade show Expomin.
USTV: What are some other factors that make BISA different from local or international competitors in its field?
BISA: If we talk about foreign competitors, we set ourselves apart because we are by far, open to any kind of project, small as well as large. Some foreign companies in our sector only accept certain types of projects. In addition, we have in-depth local knowledge that foreign companies do not have. We know about local regulations, we know how to source the right materials locally, and we know how to design projects for local conditions, for example at high altitudes; many projects in the Andes are at an elevation of 4,000 m. above sea level. All these factors have made a lot of clients see BISA as the best solutions-provider. As far as our local competitors, we have developed a wider range of expertise than most of them.
USTV: What are some of the challenges Peru’s mining sector is facing?
BISA: Around US$53 billion will be invested in mining projects in Peru over the next five years alone, but the country does not have enough qualified engineers available. We need to discuss this issue with high schools and universities and make people more aware of this problem so that Peru’s universities can step up their efforts to encourage young people to seek engineering degrees. BISA has developed its own project, Escuela BISA, which is dedicated to attracting the best engineering students at Peruvian universities. We give them the opportunity to participate in projects for BISA. We are working to make Peruvian universities understand that Peru needs to be able to provide top-quality human resources or foreign investors will choose other countries to invest in.
USTV: Are you currently looking for investors in projects in Peru?
BISA: I think that Peru is one of the most attractive countries for investors in the world, but the country has suffered a standstill in FDI. We have not seen many new investors over the past few years. To change this, everyone must be involved, including the government, which needs to ensure a secure environment for investors. BISA is not currently looking for foreign investors in the company. BISA is based on 100% Peruvian capital.
USTV: Can you describe how BISA helps protect the environment?
BISA: We operate according to the highest international standards to make sure that BISA as well as our client companies always respect the environment in everything we do. We make sure that all the projects in which we are involved are done in accordance with all Peruvian and international regulations concerning the environment and other issues.
USTV: What makes you especially proud of your time as CEO of BISA?
BISA: Every year we have new reasons to be proud of the company. I have been working at BISA since 2007 and I have participated in different ways in the company’s growth. Our engineering unit, for example, has expanded from 30 people to 350 workers and from a few projects to many major ones today. If a company wants to grow, it must always take on new challenges. For BISA, our recent challenge was to expand internationally, and we have managed to do this over the past two years. The other challenges we have met are to expand our role in the construction industry and to participate in framework contracts, and we have done this, too. Our vision is to be a leading company at the international level, and I think we are on the right path to making this vision come true.
USTV: What are some of BISA’s other goals for the next few years?
BISA: We want to get more involved in projects in other sectors. Of course we are really proud of our work in the mining sector, but our vision is for BISA to be able to provide all types of support for companies involved in all kinds of industries, like Oil & Gas, Energy and also Infrastructure projects. We also want to serve both the public and private sectors and to promote cooperation between the two.
USTV: What is your personal message to potential investor and partners around the world?
BISA: Peru is a country with a lot of opportunities that right now is living through an extraordinary moment in its history. There have never been as many projects and job opportunities as we have in Peru today and we have also never seen until now Peruvian companies like BISA that are growing and excelling in engineering and other complex fields. Peru is in the midst of a very significant period in its history and the country will need a lot of skilled workers to help complete the many projects it has planned for the future.