Saturday, December 4

What can Chile contribute to the mining debate in Panama?

Antofagasta is the mining capital of Chile, an area of ​​great copper wealth where an important entrepreneurial ecosystem linked to this industry develops. Currently, this region contributes more than half of its Gross domestic product (GDP) with 51.9%, according to the report “Updated mining figures”, elaborated by andl Mining Council based on information provided by institutions such as the Central Bank of Chile, the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) and the National Statistics Institute (INE), among others (2020).

This type of background is the root for the creation of a universe of solutions that directly benefit not only the mining activity, but also the quality of life of its inhabitants.

There is great interest in linking the growth of large-scale mining with the development of the communities with which this activity is related, seeking to create sustainable strategies for current and future generations.

In response to this need, trade associations arise that ensure the inclusive development of mining activity.

Such is the case of the Mining Cluster Corporation from the Antofagasta region. Created in November 2019, this non-profit institution and the main organizational nucleus of the region in the mining field, is a leader in the work focused on a virtuous regional mining in economic, social and environmental terms. Together with the Association of Industrialists of Antofagasta, they have worked to strengthen the training of human capital in this mining region, empowering regional suppliers that are influential in productive activity.

“We see as the main regional challenge the consolidation of our region as a Technological Development Pole that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, hand in hand with a marked Social Value for the communities. It is from there that we promote and deepen two important lines of work, which are related to promoting the development of regional suppliers and with it the hiring of regional companies and local labor, ”he argued Aurora Williams, Manager of the Antofagasta Region Mining Cluster Corporation.

All this context has generated a natural ecosystem of disruptive ventures, allowing the development of a network of world-class suppliers that contribute and develop innovative and sustainable solutions, led by companies based in the Antofagasta region.

“The Antofagasta region is recognized for its diverse offer of products and services that stand out for their competitiveness and cover the entire mining process, from the exploration phase of a project to the closure of its mines. In other words, we have highly qualified professionals who are recognized for adapting to the demands of the various international markets ”, highlighted the regional director of ProChile in Antofagasta, Marcia Rojas.

An example of this is the startup Work Mining.

Company dedicated to research, science, innovation, technology and engineering. These last four years he has dedicated himself to solving mining challenges, implementing a new design of a mineral transfer connection system and in the energy sector with the development of the first anode in Latin America for the production of green hydrogen using seawater.

“We have managed to enter the large Chilean mining industry as a success story and today they support us with the internationalization of our transfer chute system, which became a very important tool to integrate the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem and position our region as leaders in innovation from Chile to the world. We have been benefited by ProChile and today we have formal requirements from different countries, “he said. Mario Terrace, CEO and founder of Work Mining.

Currently they have a product for multisectoral use called ‘Magic Eye’, it is the first patented 3D laser scanner that allows internal monitoring of long extensions, without resorting to plant stoppage. “It is not invasive, it does not require external energy, but only to obtain, store and deliver data, since it moves with the fluids that transport it regardless of whether or not the ducts are under surfaces,” explained Mario.

Following the same path of innovation, in 2016 Nanoprocess was born and with it the first plant dedicated to the production of copper nanoparticles, with 100% Chilean technology.

The initiative came from G Process, a company that seeks to optimize mining processes by creating the additive DXG-F7, which improves the physical and chemical quality of copper cathodes, setting a pattern of change in the main copper mining companies worldwide.

In the context of the health emergency that began in 2020, the nanoparticle created by G Process generated added value to Chilean copper, creating the RC-71 disinfectant cleaner.

“We sell the additive that produces better quality cathodes, then we buy those cathodes and transform them into nanoparticles to make RC-71. Finally we have a triangulation of our products and we participate in all its processes in one way or another ”, he explained Liset Gómez, CEO of G Process.

Commitment to the environment

On the other hand, the production of copper as a protagonist in the Antofagasta region has shown the risks of contamination that can be derived from this economic activity, however, this experience has collaborated in the transformation process to generate innovative alternatives that address the management and care of the environment, with the aim of moving towards green mining, ensuring compliance with exhaustive environmental regulations.

With this objective the company was born Stones Together, who have already been working for more than 23 years in the areas of health, community, safety and the environment for mining.

Currently in an alliance with QuimEco, have developed a dust suppressant of organic origin and 100% biodegradable that saves up to 98% of water in the process of irrigation of roads and the same percentage mitigates the pollution of particulate matter (PM) 10 and PM 2.5.

To mitigate PM emissions and employ adequate management of water resources, “we work with polymers of organic origin and based on a circular economy, since they are algae residues left by the cosmetic and food industry. They are products that not only come to solve problems in mining and agriculture, but especially in caring for the environment “, he explained Oscar Ubillo, director of new business for America of the company Piedras Juntas and QuimEco.

That is why our slogan is environmental awareness, where we make this play on words in which we work with science, but we also have to be aware of caring for the environment and reach more countries where this problem exists ”, added Ubillo.

Therefore, to the extent that we have developed local suppliers and strengthened local economies, we can advance in one of the great challenges that the industry has, “strengthening its social value so that communities access greater benefits that mining provides. In this way, the social license to operate is strengthened, which is key to enabling future investments that the country has by 2030, which add up to around $ 25,000 million in mining and industrial projects for the area ”, declared the university professor Yuri Rojo, territorial mining advisor and former sector executive.

“It is together with suppliers and regional employability that we must move in the medium and short term towards contemporary challenges: An efficient green mining in the use of water and energy, the consolidation of the use of renewable energies and the decarbonization of our productive matrix. Territories and their productive chain must be at the core of this process, “he added. Aurora Williams, manager of the Antofagasta Region Mining Cluster Corporation

These are some examples of how Chile, especially from its mining region, promotes innovation for the development of new technologies. Panama has the opportunity to promote similar growth to enhance its mining and industrial sector, with new productive sectors and sustainable growth that increases the value of its natural resources.

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