Mining Innovation in Chile

Author: Douglas Morris

Chile is the global leader in copper mining and, as such, this industry is very strategic to the economic performance of the country. Even though Chile leads in production, its copper companies import about three quarters of the technology required for mining.

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Enter Santiago based CORFO (Corporación de Fomento de la Producción), the Chilean government’s economic development organization dedicated to promoting innovation and growth. Its programs support and finance a wide variety of initiatives, with goals of improving the skills of the local technology ecosystem (universities, R&D centers, and the local workforce), establishing Chile as a center of innovation, and stimulating the Chilean economy.

In 2013, the organization solicited proposals for “International Research and Development Centers of Excellence (ICE)” with a goal of developing R&D centers across a variety of industries and establishing Chile as an innovation hub. Four proposals from multinational companies were ultimately accepted; Emerson (Mining), Pfizer (Life Sciences), GDF Suez (Renewable Energy) and Telefonica (IT and Telecommunications).

After selection, Emerson quickly established its International Center of Excellence in Santiago to support research and development of products and applications to benefit both Chilean and global mining companies. The effort to date is a success and Emerson is actively working on six lines of research targeted on both mine pit and mineral processing operations.

The research is proceeding down multiple paths; developing next generation expert systems to improve mineral processing productivity, applying techniques from other industries to improve mine efficiency and safety, and developing new techniques to improve both mechanical and process reliability. Preliminary investigation is complete on several of these solutions and initial versions are already finding their way into operating mines.

Over the next three years the goal is to establish Chile as an international center of mining innovation and to develop applications and technology which benefit both the Chilean and global mining industry. Emerson will exhibit at EXPONOR in Antofagasta, Chile in May and will have more information available regarding the CORFO program and Emerson’s Santiago R&D Center.

From Jim: You can connect and interact with other mining professionals in the Metals and Mining group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.