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By: Ysmael Ormeño Zender, PMP, PMO-CP, SMPC.


According to the PMBOK of the Project Management Institute (PMI), a "program" is a set of related projects that are managed in a coordinated manner to achieve benefits and control that would not be achieved if managed individually. By grouping projects under the concept of a program, we seek to optimize resources, minimize risks and maximize benefits and value for the organization.

The programs allow a more holistic view of projects and their interdependence, which facilitates strategic decision making and the achievement of broader organizational objectives. In addition, the program approach provides greater efficiency and consistency in project execution, as resources, skills and knowledge can be shared across projects.

The concept of "Mining Programs"

In the context of the mining industry, a program may group related projects that include the construction of a new mine, the implementation of sustainable technologies and social development projects, such as the construction of schools and health centers for nearby communities. If these projects are managed independently, they could face operational and logistical constraints or difficulties, and their benefits could be limited. However, by grouping them into a "Mining Program", significant synergies and efficiencies can be obtained.

As can be seen in Figure 1, the main value of applying the "Mining Programs" approach is that it allows addressing social and environmental aspects in an integrated manner, which would generate the creation of shared value, improve relationships and promote a climate of trust.

In addition, by implementing projects with common infrastructure and close geographic location, the environmental footprint and impacts on local communities can be reduced. Collaboration in waste management and the shared use of water resources can also contribute to more sustainable and responsible management.

Another specific case would be the construction of accesses for the mine. If this project is managed independently, it could face challenges in obtaining financial resources and construction logistics. However, if incorporated from the outset into a "Mining Program" that also includes the construction of a health center and the implementation of sustainable technologies at the mine, shared resources can be leveraged and efforts can be coordinated for greater positive social impact.

On the other hand, program management also facilitates communication and collaboration with local communities. By having a more holistic view of projects and their co-benefits, a more effective and transparent dialogue can be established with stakeholders, which enhances the relationship and promotes a climate of mutual trust.

Main Differences

To understand the difference between a "Mining Program" and other projects that run in parallel, but are not managed as an integrated program, we developed the following comparative table highlighting the key characteristics of each approach. In this case, we will focus on comparing a stand-alone "Mining Project" with a "Mining Program" that includes several projects, such as CSR or others.

Table 1 highlights the main differences between a stand-alone "Mining Project" and an integrated "Mining Program". While a stand-alone mining project focuses primarily on the exploitation of minerals, without comprehensive consideration of other aspects, the integrated mining program encompasses several related projects that seek to generate shared value and long-term sustainability.

The mining program is characterized by coordinated management, optimization and maximization of resources, and a broader social responsibility that includes community and environmental considerations. On the other hand, independent mining projects may be limited to a short-term vision and a focused impact on their specific objectives, without taking advantage of the synergies and benefits that can be achieved through integrated management.

It is important to note that the "Mining Programs" approach seeks to create shared value and maximize benefits for both the mining industry and the communities and environment in which they operate. This integration and coordination of projects contributes to sustainable development and the well-being of the parties involved, generating a significant positive impact on the region.

Let's see a complete example

Let's assume the case of a geographic region with great mining potential, where several mining companies are operating. However, mining activity has generated environmental and social concerns in local communities. Communities are resistant and distrustful of the mining industry due to the negative impacts perceived in the past, which has made it difficult to obtain social and environmental licenses for new projects. The concept of "Mining Program" is sought to be applied.

Program objective:

Ensure the feasibility of mining projects by integrating several initiatives with the purpose of generating shared value with the communities. The goal is to improve the relationship between the mining industry and local populations, promoting sustainable development and socioeconomic well-being.

Proposed projects to be integrated:

1. Responsible mining: Focuses on conscious mining, minimizing environmental impact and meeting high safety standards. Advanced technologies will be used for waste management and rehabilitation of impacted areas, ensuring long-term sustainability.

2. Education and Training: The aim is to improve education and provide job skills to local inhabitants. Collaboration with educational institutions and experts in the mining industry will enable courses related to responsible mining, occupational safety and cross-cutting skills.

3. Road Infrastructure: The project focuses on improving access roads to the communities and the mining area. Improved road infrastructure will facilitate transportation, stimulating trade and regional economic development.

Variables considered:

ν Synergies between projects: The education and training project will be coordinated with the other projects to identify job opportunities generated by agricultural and livestock development and road infrastructure. Specific training will be provided to take advantage of the new job opportunities generated by the "Mining Program".

ν Community participation: The local community will actively participate in the identification of training needs and in the design of educational programs, ensuring that they are aligned with their interests and career aspirations.

ν Gender equity: Equal participation of men and women in training programs will be promoted, with special attention to the inclusion of women in roles traditionally dominated by men in the mining industry.

ν Responsible use of natural resources: During the trainings, awareness of the importance of sustainability and conservation of the natural environment will be promoted, in line with the responsible exploitation approach of the "Mining Program".

Benefits of the Mining Program:

ν Community well-being: Local communities will experience a significant improvement in their quality of life, with access to employment, education and basic services that will boost their social and economic development.

ν Sustainable development: The program will allow for sustainable development of the region, balancing economic needs with environmental protection and the well-being of the local population.

ν Improved corporate image: Responsible and sustainable implementation of the program will improve the image of mining companies, generating confidence in investors and other stakeholders.

Shared value obtained:

The "Mining Program" generates shared value by establishing effective collaboration between the mining industry and local communities, fostering mutual benefits and promoting equitable and sustainable development. Through coordinated project management, resources are optimized and risks are minimized, leading to more significant results. 

Mining companies secure a social license by demonstrating their commitment to responsibility and sustainability, enhancing relationships and long-term stability. In parallel, local communities experience job creation, access to services and a focus on gender equity, which fosters female inclusion and empowerment in the mining industry and beyond. 

The integration of these projects within the framework of the mining program results in outstanding shared value, ranging from the promotion of more sustainable mining to the economic and social strengthening of local communities. 

Program governance

Unlike individual projects, where each mining project is treated individually, with its own objectives, management team and decision-making structure, mining program governance seeks to integrate and coordinate related projects under a unified program, with broader objectives and goals that address the overall strategy of the organization.

In this context, program governance has several key considerations:

1. Governance Framework: This involves establishing policies, standards and procedures that follow best practices and are aligned with the organization's strategic objectives.

2. Strategic Alignment: Programs should be closely linked to the overall mining business strategy. This ensures that the selected projects contribute to both economic profitability and social and environmental aspects, optimizing their positive impact.

3. Benefit realization: This involves ongoing evaluation of progress, taking corrective action if necessary and ensuring alignment with sustainability and social responsibility objectives.

4. Role of the PMO: Having a PMO provides technical and administrative support, establishes standards and processes, and integrates resources in the execution (we will discuss this topic at length in a new article).

5. Review and Monitoring: Involves constant supervision of the progress of the programs. 

A strategy for mining project feasibility

As can be seen, mining program management is presented as a solid and promising strategy to achieve the feasibility and success of projects in the mining industry. By holistically addressing technical, economic and social aspects, the "Mining Programs" offer a comprehensive and balanced approach that leads to sustainable development and the progress of local communities.

This approach mainly reflects the mining industry's genuine commitment to social responsibility and environmental preservation. By implementing "Mining Programs", resources are consolidated, benefits are amplified and risks are mitigated, generating sustainable and equitable economic growth in the surrounding regions.

However, effective management of mining programs requires a solid governance framework aligned with corporate strategy and internationally recognized standards. The PMO plays an essential role in providing administrative and technical support, establishing standards and processes, and ensuring alignment with best practices. Ongoing review, monitoring and effective communication are key elements of program governance, ensuring that intended benefits are achieved and that the integrity of projects and programs is maintained throughout their life cycle.

In conclusion, we believe that this integrative approach highlights and makes a positive difference in the sustainable development of the mining industry that aspires to be a positive and constructive player in the global landscape, outlining a path towards a more responsible and prosperous future. 


Atlassian. (s.f.). Gestión de programas frente a gestión de proyectos. Atlassian. Disponible en: https://www.atlassian.com/es/agile/project-management/program-management

De la Cuesta González, M. 2004. La responsabilidad social corporativa: una aproximación teórica. Revista de Economía Mundial, 10, 83-105.

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Project Management Institute. 2017. The Standard for Program Management (4th Ed.). Project Management Institute.

Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde S.A.A. 2022. Memoria Anual 2022. Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde S.A.A.

Weaver, P. 2010. Understanding Programs and Projects-Oh, There's a Difference! Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2010-Asia Pacific, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Zentano, L. and Ferguson, G.A. 2008. Mining project management – capital projects. Pp. 21-32 in Walton, G. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 14th Extractive Industry Geology Conference, EIG Conferences, 109p.

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