Alejandro Beltran – Metso
There’s something thrilling about standing at the precipice and staring into a massive open pit. So remarks Alejandro Beltran upon returning to his Toronto office after sealing a $50 million deal for his employer to sustain a mining operation in Central America.
“I like to go to the mines and see our equipment at work,” says Beltran, who’s soon to celebrate his third anniversary as legal director for Metso’s dealings in Canada, Mexico and Central America. “Most of my travel is about completing the purchase and overseeing all the other legal issues. But when I can, I go to the mines just to see how the processes work so I can ask relevant questions and go deep.”
It’s all part of his on-the-job learning, which Beltran says can be a challenge—given the dynamics of the modern mining industry and he not having a scientific background. But through his own initiative, he’s garnered more than just a working knowledge of his company’s earth-breaking, rock-crushing, slurry-handling, magnetic-separating and what-not equipment, and finds it more to his liking than the oil and natural gas rigs of some of his former employers.
“Oil and gas used to be my dream,” Beltran tells Vanguard in June. “But I became interested in the environment and renewables and now work for a company that helps other companies explore natural resources in a manner that’s more environmentally friendly. We’re also helping the world to reduce its carbon footprint, starting from our own, with an ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2030.”
Legal buck stops here
Enabling that transition has the potential of being quite a boom for Metso, a Finnish-owned company established in 2020 when Metso Minerals merged with Beltran’s former employer, Outotec Oyj, forming a new organization called Metso Outotec. The corporate rebrand to Metso having just taken effect this past May, Beltran’s yet to update his LinkedIn profile, but he’s got more pressing matters.
“Every legal issue that arises in Canada, Mexico and Central America comes to me,” he says. “Contracts, intellectual property issues, force majeure, robberies, lawsuits, real estate—I deal with it all, but not alone, of course, I have an amazing legal team helping me and external firms that allow me to make inform decisions in the countries where we operate.”
Metso is active wherever grounds need breaking, the company had been in lengthy negotiations to buy Mexican land for a new polymer filter plate plant aimed at fulfilling the increasing capacity demands of high-quality filters and providing Metso’s customers with shorter lead times, especially in the Americas. Beltran finalized that purchase in May and says everything seems on target for operations next year. There’s also a $90 million equipment sale in South America and while Africa isn’t among Beltran’s primary geographical regions, he’s still been involved in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso transactions.
There’ll be more in that hemisphere, Beltran explaining how Africa’s among the places where some of the most sought minerals are dug. Lithium, cobalt and nickel are essential for the batteries necessary to power electric vehicles and General Motors and other automakers have committed to an all-EV future in Beltran’s lifetime. This, he says, is the “gold rush of the 21st century” and Metso is ready.
Not only is Beltran researching these minerals, he wants to become an expert on the subject. Let’s all be experts on this subject, he says, and the company will be even more the go-to for the means to extract and process. And aside from enhancing his geological and legal credentials, Beltran’s also learning much about foreign cultures.
“It’s the most fascinating part of the job,” he says. “I get to work with attorneys from all over the world and become accustomed to what’s the business procedure in other lands.”
As a Colombian-born son of a lawyer father and assistant accountant mother, Beltran found it relatively easy dealing with South and Central Americans. It’s ingrained in their culture, he says, to be hospitable and nurture personal as well as professional relationships. He’s found his African counterparts to be more direct, but says once they get to know you, they too are receptive to friendly overtures.
“We may be different in some ways, but we still have the same goal,” Beltran says. “We’re here to negotiate a contract and I’m very passionate about negotiating. It’s like I’m playing soccer and have to score a big goal.”
From Colombia to Canada
One cultural adaptation that Beltran never found very challenging was adjusting to Canadian life. While as a younger man he had political aspirations in his native land, that gave way to other pursuits after earning his law degree from Pontifical Javeriana University in 2004.
The conventional energy industry appealed to him and he logged a few years as an associate lawyer with a Bogota firm that specializes in oil and gas. However, he saw Canada as having more to offer and through his work in South America, made contacts up north. From 2008 to 2015, he handled compliance and contractual matters for three Calgary companies, then moved to Ontario to complete his Certificate of Qualification to become a lawyer in Canada. For a year, he worked with the software firm OpenText.
In 2018, Beltran says he landed where he belonged at Outotec, a Finnish company with a Toronto office for providing equipment and ancillary services for the metal and mineral processing industries. For two years, he directed legal and contractual management for North and Central America and was retained for a more comprehensive role when the company and Metso joined forces.
The Metso Outotec combo makes an industry leader for processing technology, equipment and services for the minerals, metals and aggregates industries. The entity also pursuing progressive policies related to sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion, Beltran’s glad to have a role.
“As a boy I wanted to change my country and now I have a chance to make a greater difference through other means,” says the now 42-year-old Beltran.
His country used to be Colombia and while it’s now Canada, Beltran doesn’t think just of national boundaries. Mining occurs from the Arctic to the southern tips of Argentina and Chile, so there’s much opportunity for Metso to capitalize in all the Americas as well as elsewhere.
And Beltran’s well-positioned to do his part, his Colombia law degree and Certificate of Qualification in Canada, enhanced by advanced degrees and certificates from Mount Royal University, University of Calgary and a Master of Laws from York University-Osgood Hall Law School.
Even the Canadian climate hasn’t fazed him, Beltran adding snowboarding and cross-country skiing to his other athletic interests that include half-ironman competitions and hiking. Soccer might be his favorite sport, but he’s become a fan of Toronto’s teams, the Blue Jays and Raptors, and the Calgary Flames.
“It is different in Toronto with all its hustle bustle,” he says. “There’s less of that in Calgary but Canadians are the nicest people. I’ve never felt like a foreigner in this country.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer III 2023 Edition here.
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