Friday, 15 November 2019
AI in the Chilean Mining Industry
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AI in the Chilean Mining Industry

This was originally published online by Harris Gómez Group.

The potential for the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the mining and metals industry is truly wide and varied. The technology is set to transform almost every aspect of the industry in the coming decades.

In an industry such as mining where improving efficiency and productivity is crucial to profitability, even small improvements in yields, speed and efficiency can make a major impact to the bottom line. METS companies are at the forefront of helping mining companies utilize AI in order to make faster decisions with greater accuracy, Improve health and safety, boost efficiency through error elimination, and have a smaller environmental footprint.

The use of AI in this industry so far includes predictive maintenance to prevent unexpected downtime, using the technology to help find raw materials, and sensors anticipating movements in self-operated equipment, such as mine trucks.

A recent study by consultancy Accenture, showed 82% of executives in the global mining industry expecting to increase investment in digital technology over the next three years.

Priority technologies in mining are: robotics and automation (54%), drones/UAVs (41%), remote operations centers (41%, and wearables (41%). Other technology priorities are cyber security 32%), real time data visualization and analytics (31% and 30% respectively).

The principal benefits are: improved equipment performance (47%), administrative/operational savings (42%) and more efficient decision making (40%).

The Accenture study shows that at least 70% of companies in the mining industry worldwide are using machine learning in at least one area of their business.

The question now becomes – how are Chilean mining companies utilizing AI?

Examples of AI in Chile

GoldSpot Discoveries

Canada-listed GoldSpot Discoveries, one of the first public companies to offer proprietary AI services to boost efficiency and success rates in exploration and investment. Teh company takes large datasets from existing companies and find patterns in their data that could result in a new discovery and point out potential targets.

The company has completed projects in Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. 

Goldspot Discoveries – Go Public Power Point from Palisade Global Investments

Indimin

Indimin is a Chilean company, whose platform acts as a kind of “digital personal trainer” assistant for operations managers, helping them to detect personal productivity deficits and suggesting corrective measures that can be taken to improve productivity.

Timining

Timining another Chilean company, which develops a digital twin of mining operations, or a virtual carbon copy, using sensors, where management can manipulate a large number of variables over a given time period to see how changes will affect upstream and downstream processes.

The company deploys different technologies including big data and analytics, mixed reality, IoT and AI.

Automation and Robotics

AI leads into other technological areas such as automation which also have a huge impact on productivity.

In Chile, autonomous vehicles are being tested. The trucks, made by Japanese manufacturer Komatsu, weigh 416 tons and use a mix of GPS, radar, and laser sensors to navigate a site. Their job is simple: go to a load site, wait to be filled, and then drive to another location. Komatsu estimates that their autonomous trucks have already hauled 1 billion tons of material, mainly in Australia and Chile.

MIRS, a Chilean company, launched this week a robotic solution for the reline of SAG and ball mills. The External Mill Maintenance Robot or EMMR is considered to be the world’s first fully automated system that performs this operation autonomously and without any human intervention.

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The External Mill Maintenance Robot or EMMR is considered to be the world’s first fully automated system that performs this operation autonomously and without any human intervention. In detail, the robots are able to remove nuts and washers, remove bolts, clean and lubricate the threads of the bolts, install new bolts, simultaneously torque two nuts, clean shell and nuts and normalize the mill for operation.

“A 100-hour detention with a conventional system will decrease to 60 hours with to use of EMMR and IMMR,” Igor Elías, MIRS Mill Reline Business Area Manager, said in a media statement.

How is Chile doing adopting new technology?

In many ways Chile has been a great market for companies to introduce new technologies. On the other hand, at a recent mining 4.0 event hosted by RMSE Analytics in Santiago, there were some that believe the local industry is paying lip service to innovation but not putting its money where its mouth is.

Javier Ruiz del Solar, executive director of the Advanced Mining Technology Center (AMTC) at the Universidad de Chile was quoted saying that out of 61 underground mining processes in the global industry, only five have been automated so far, and most of these involve transportation of the minerals.

While the digital transformation of the mine itself may be running at a snail’s pace, the miners’ management and administrative operations have embraced technology. 

“While we haven’t introduced great technological changes, we’ve digitized our organization’s structural processes through SAP,” said Juan Quispe, asset maintenance corporate manager at Antofagasta Minerals.

“Change management has been our main technological challenge. Our maintenance profile is currently at 73% preventive. Our goal is to be 90% predictive. But it’s really expensive to become predictive.”

Conclusion

Adoption of any technology comes with challenges. Yet, the growing evidence of AI´s benefits in the mining industry indicates that it is here to stay.

Chile has some of the largest copper mines in the world. The local industry faces challenges related to increasing productivity, declining ore grades, water usage, and deeper mines. These challenges can be partially solved by adopting automation and AI technology throughout their operations.

With a project pipeline of over USD$50 billion, there is no doubt that the Chilean market will continue to be a focus for many METS companies, who believe their technology can help solve some of the fundamental problems that the industry is facing.

METS companies will be leading the way and mining companies will be in some cases painfully cautious as they introduce the new solutions. Ultimately, the partnership between the two will lead to adoption on a much larger scale but not without some hiccups along the way.

Harris Gomez Group is a Common Law firm, with offices in Santiago, Bogotá, and Sydney. We also have legal teams in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. Over the last 18 years, we have been supporting foreign companies with their growth in Australia and 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 cmm@hgomezgroup.com.

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