Thursday, 13 August 2020
BHP Tailings Challenge Seeks to Increase the Sustainability of Copper Tailings
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BHP Tailings Challenge Seeks to Increase the Sustainability of Copper Tailings

This was originally published by Fundación Chile.

  • The initiative is aimed at innovative companies, startups, consortia, research centers and universities worldwide.
  • Applications are open until August 21 at www.tailingschallenge.com; and the process will end with a Demo Day in March 2023.

BHP is committed to making progress in reducing and recycling waste. The Tailings Challenge – a new initiative that seeks innovative solutions for repurposing copper tailings – seeks to do just that.

The challenge is aimed at innovative companies, startups, consortia, research centers and universities worldwide. These institutions are expected to develop new technological solutions and new business models for reusing copper tailings, such as turning them into commercial products via new materials or other applications.

The challenge, which is carried out with the support of Fundación Chile through the open innovation program in mining, Expande, will provide US$ 10 million in grants to developers.

During the launch, the Minister of Mining, Baldo Prokurica, said the initiative promotes the development of solutions that allow the sector to be more sustainable and competitive over time. He emphasized that “in recent years we have witnessed concrete steps that the national mining industry is providing to become a greener activity that promotes energy and water efficiency and the reduction of the environmental footprint”. He highlighted the National Plan for Tailings Deposits that undertakes the State’s historical debt with the mining regions and the initiatives aimed at generating greater water efficiency, such as the investment in desalination plants that today recycle up to 86% of water and others that are using seawater. He estimated that by 2030 74% of the water volume used by the new mining projects in Chile, would come from the oceans.”

He concluded that “mining is fundamental for the development of Chile, but it must always be subject to sanitary criteria and respect for the environment and its communities. Mining will provide us with an indispensable lever to face the post-pandemic with job creation and development for the country, because mining has never failed Chile ".

Bryan Quinn, Asset President Joint Ventures BHP, said “The BHP Tailings Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders from across the globe, to work on one of our industries largest challenges. We are looking for brilliant people and companies who can bring innovative ideas and solutions to increase the sustainability and reuse of tailings.”

Marcos Kulka, CEO of Fundación Chile, added that “the current volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world has forced us for many years to explore infinite possibilities to pursue initiatives that make a difference, that are transformational and that generate real value for companies, for the world of entrepreneurship and training, and the society as a whole. The BHP Tailings Challenge is presented today as a concrete opportunity to generate activity in the sector, in a context characterized by the health and economic crisis. It is a clear sign that cutting-edge innovation in mining is being managed in Chile and positions us at the forefront of ground breaking initiatives aimed at sustainability”.

Those interested in participating in the challenge must demonstrate execution capabilities to conduct laboratory/ concept tests that are robust enough to ensure transition to a pilot in an operational environment.

The process will end with a Demo Day in March 2023, an instance in which the winner or winners who have been able to tackle the challenge posed by the BHP Tailings Challenge will be announced, having developed a feasible tailings reutilization solution from the technical and investment points of view.

Andrés Mitnik, Business Director of Expande, emphasized that “carrying out a challenge of the complexity of the BHP Tailings Challenge requires a deep understanding of innovation processes as well as a global network capable of attracting state-of-the-art technology and the latest trends in sustainable business models. There are few institutions in the world capable of doing something like this; that there is one in Chile speaks of the great advance that the innovation ecosystem has had at the local level”.

Applications for “BHP Tailings Challenge” will be open until August 21 at www.tailingschallenge.com

About BHP
BHP is a world-leading resources company. It extracts and processes minerals, oil and gas and their products are sold worldwide. Their purpose is to bring people and resources together to build a better world.

About Fundación Chile
With a trajectory of more than 40 years promoting the sustainable development of Chile, the organization has designed an open innovation model that has allowed to change paradigms and face in an agile way the new challenges that the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world imposes that has permanent change at its core. For this, it articulates the private and public world and entrepreneurs in search of new solutions and innovative responses that positively impact our society. Since its creation in 1976, Fundación Chile has been a strategic partner of the State of Chile, has generated more than two billion dollars in social value in industries and companies created by the organization, impacting on Chile's competitiveness internationally.

About Expande

Expande is a public-private open innovation program, which seeks to promote an innovation ecosystem, from and to the mining industry, enabling the adoption of local technological capabilities that lead to the development of a more sustainable, competitive and global industry. This is made possible by mapping of the supply and demand of technology solutions; articulation and development of collaboration networks. The program also focuses its efforts on facilitating technology exchange, escalation and transfer; transferring knowledge and tools to the ecosystem; and supporting supplier companies that enable the development of an industry of goods and services around mining with an export potential.

The public-private initiative, under the umbrella of Alta Ley National Mining Program, is co-designed and implemented by Fundación Chile and the strategic partners Corfo, Antofagasta Minerals, BHP, Codelco, Teck, Ministry of the Economy, Development and Tourism, Ministry of Mining and IDB Lab.

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