Chile Mining – Digital and Technology Transformation
Written by Cody Mcfarlane
Mining in Chile, similar to other parts of the world, is currently in the midst of a digital transformation. This year due to the global health crisis, companies are accelerating the digitalisation of their operations in order to increase productivity, improve decision-making, and anticipate failures.
Codelco’s digitization plan focuses on data transmission and security, internet of things (IoT), automation and integrated operation centers.
The miner already has four integrated operation centers at its Chuquicamata, Andina, Ministro Hales and El Teniente mines. It is preparing to open one more at its corporate building in Santiago to monitor all its mines and processing facilities.
By using IoT and applying mathematical models at El Teniente, Chuquicamata and Andina processing facilities, the miner increased copper production by 4%. The plan is to extend the approach to all divisions within three years.
Codelco also works on a strategic plan to improve communication channels by moving from WiFi to LTE [high-speed wireless communication], as well as test autonomous drilling machines and trucks at its Radomiro Tomic and Ministro Hales mines.
Another company using new technologies is Antofagasta Minerals, which is using machine learning to improve processing plants at its Los Pelambres and Centinela copper mines in Coquimbo and Antofagasta regions, respectively.
At Los Pelambres, the miner already uses autonomous drill rigs, while at Centinela digitization is advancing to enable remote control of the site. The company also plans to use autonomous haul trucks for the new pit at Centinela.
Other major miners, such as BHP, have their own programs which are a very much looking at bringing best practices from across the world to its Chilean operations.
Testing New Technologies
To implement these technologies, innovation hubs and piloting centers are key, as they help to reduce risk aversion and facilitate testing under real-world conditions.
There are already two centers of excellence which are partnerships between Chilean Universities and Australian research organisations – University of Queensland and CSIRO.
Chile’s national mining company Enami and Ciptemin piloting center, recently signed a cooperation agreement to support innovation among small companies involved in the mining chain.
The agreement will allow mining suppliers and SMEs to test new technologies at an industrial level in Enami’s Antofagasta facilities and will also seek to help firms identify areas that could be improved through innovation.
The first tests will be focused on hydrometallurgical, leaching, solvent-extraction and electrowinning processes, Enami said in a release.
In addition, industry watchdog Sernageomin, and national piloting center CNP are drafting standard procedures and protocols for testing technologies inside mines.
Chile has been a strong market for international mining technology companies looking to enter the Region – particularly from Canada and Australia who have built world renowned mining technology ecosystems. Chile wants to do the same for its own local mining suppliers.
Just this month, Chile’s innovation initiative Expande launched the Open Space platform to promote associations between startups and mining suppliers and facilitate the implementation of new technologies.
Open Space will provide a new space for companies and startups, local and international, that want to scale their businesses collaboratively in the mining industry.
The platform will provide company profiles and capabilities and help companies to export technological solutions.
Enrique Molina, Executive Director of Expande pointed out that Open Space “seeks to open new opportunities, not only for those who are already immersed in the mining ecosystem, but also for those companies that have experience implementing technological solutions in other industries, but applicable in mining,”
Ricardo Morgado, Director of Strategy and Development at Expande explained that “the value of Open Space lies in the collaboration and reciprocity between companies, promoting partnerships and complementing capabilities, but there is also another value offer, which is the possibility of accessing multiple benefits such as: being part of the technological scouting processes, participating in master classes, activities with venture capital companies and technology transfer programs, among other initiatives that will be informed in a timely manner according to the profile of each company ”.
The Chilean mining industry is accelerating its digital transformation. In conjunction with private industry, it is looking to build a favorable environment by reducing barriers through its government programs, investments in innovation hubs and testing centers, and lastly, building its own suppliers ecosystem.
There are some key challenges such as training personnel with digitization skills, cybersecurity, and managing data so that it can be used productively. Chile will overcome these challenges by supporting the industry as it has done to this point.
Chile is well on its way to becoming a global leader, not only in mining but also has a supplier of technology and services to the rest of the world.
Harris Gomez Group is a Common Law firm, with offices in Santiago, Bogotá, and Sydney. We also have legal teams in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. Over the last 20 years, our team of English speaking Lawyers and Attorneys have been supporting foreign companies with their growth in Latin America. Many of our clients are technology companies, service providers and engineering companies that focus on the mining, energy and infrastructure markets.
To better understand how we can support your management team in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at firstname.lastname@example.org