August 10, 2021 #ChileDiverse #Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Chile: a mining innovation hub

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Telematics, desalination, renewable energies and technologies to recover the mineral that remains attached to the rocks are some of the innovations that allow Chilean mining to be at the forefront not only in exports, but also in innovation linked to its processes.s.

Chile is internationally recognized for its mining potential. In fact, our country produces 28% of the world's copper, and according to a recent survey conducted by Imagen de Chile in 12 cities around the world, 25% of those surveyed recognize Chile for its copper and copper products. And in the last decade, Chilean mining has been transforming the way it operates, with advances that include greater technology and sustainability.


According to the National Mining Policy, the goal is for half of the industry to operate with renewable energies by 2030 and, in addition, to continue advancing with other green mining projects, such as the diversification of water sources for its extraction processes. One of the great challenges of the Chilean mining industry is to face water scarcity. Currently 70% comes from continental water, while 30% comes from seawater. It is expected that by 2031 mining will use 53% from a continental water source, versus 47% from the sea.

Several desalination projects are aimed along these lines, including the Escondida Water Supply (EWS) desalination plant, owned by Minera Escondida (BHP), located in Puerto Coloso, Antofagasta. Inaugurated in 2018, it is the largest desalination plant in South America and one of the largest in the world in terms of capacity (2,500 liters per second).

According to figures from the Mining Council, the sector already operates with 50% renewable energies, and some companies have even achieved 100% green energy supply. Some have also incorporated fleets of electric vehicles to reduce diesel emissions, and mining has become the sector with the second largest number of electric buses after public transport.

The reuse of mining waste is another area that has been explored. An example of this is Innovations in Mining, the first Chilean company specialized in rescuing the copper that remains attached to the rocks, using artificial intelligence. With an intelligent scanner (of a size similar to a container), they identify the rocks that still have copper and through compressed air valves, rescue the adhered mineral. With this, they recover up to 40% of the mineral, equivalent to US$20 million.


Remote management, telematics and information processing have also been at the center of innovations in mining.

Codelco's Radomiro Tomic Division, located in the municipality of Calama, started in December the first 5G pilot in mining, which connects the site with the Integrated Operations Center-Strategic (CIO-E) that the company has at its headquarters in Santiago. The pilot consists of the installation of a high-definition camera at the Radomiro Tomic Division, which is connected to a 5G network and transmits images that allow immediate processing of logistical data such as waiting times and material unloading, in order to analyze and optimize these processes.

The Centro Nacional de Pilotaje de tecnologías para la minería (CNP), a public-private corporation, with support from Corfo, tests technological prototypes and innovations that, after being industrially validated, are used in mining operations. To carry out these tests, the CNP has technical capabilities and infrastructure with presence in the Metropolitan, O'Higgins and Antofagasta regions.

Telematics is another area that has been explored. Minera Gold Fields carried out the first satellite telematics tests for mining in Chile at the end of 2020, focusing on its Salares Norte project (Diego de Almagro, Atacama region). The test showed that it is possible to connect technologies located thousands of kilometers away, with isolated areas, but within satellite range, through mobile equipment.

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