Chile: Mining Equipment, Technology And Service Providers – Where Is The industry Going?

Last Updated: 2 November 2017
Article by Harris Gomez

Harris Gomez Group has been working with Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) businesses in Latin America for 16 years. Over the last 5 years, I have had the opportunity to personally speak with over 200 METS companies and their management teams about the various aspects of their businesses. I typically learn through those conversations what products/services they offer, what differentiates them from their competition, why they have been successful in their home market, their efforts to grow internationally, where the industry is going and the feedback they receive from the mines they are visiting. From all of my conversations, there is a common theme. METS companies are listening to their customers and the problems they are facing. They are then going back and creating innovative solutions to help their clients solve whatever challenges they are facing.

That is why earlier this year, when the report, ¨A Roadmap for unlocking future growth opportunities for Australia¨ was released by CSIRO, I made sure to read it as I headed from Santiago to Antofagasta to visit one of our clients.

For those who have not had the opportunity to read the report, I have provided a brief overview. The point of the report is that the mining industry is going through a transformation, which is creating new opportunities and threats for the future of the METS sector. The report calls these changes ¨global mining megatrends¨ and are projected to have a significant impact on the sector for the next 20 years. They are defined as the following:

Rethinking Reserves

Rates of discovery for high-quality and accessible ores are declining and not keeping up with depletion.

The Knowledge Economy

Emerging markets will need support developing the applicable skills, services, and technologies that will be required for the future. In addition, skills from outside of the mining industry will be needed to achieve best practice in automation, digitisation and data analytics. New METS players will enter the market and there will be fierce competition for talent.

The Innovation Imperative

A drop-in commodity prices, along with rising costs, declining ore grades and concerns about decreasing productivity are compelling the mining industry to focus on operational costs.

Plugged In and Switched On

Digital technologies, data analytics and automation along with greater mobility and increased connectivity are creating exciting opportunities for the mining industry.

Digital technologies, Data Analytics

Automation along with greater mobility and increased connectivity are creating exciting opportunities for the mining industry.

New Supply, New Demand

Demand for mineral resources continues to grow and developing nations play a key role in supplying that demand.

The Era of Accountability

Mining companies will move forward as good corporate citizens, where accountability and environmental success exceeds expectations, strengthening community engagement and support for existing and new projects into the future.

Given the megatrends identified, CSIRO laid out 5 opportunities where METS companies can focus their efforts to support the continued growth of the sector internationally.

I. Social and Environmental Sustainability

Growing societal concern about the impacts of mining will drive the development of new processes and technologies to improve social well-being, environmental performance, and economic prosperity.

Example Mets Solutions

  • Active measurement of inputs, throughputs, and impacts
  • Total lifecycle frameworks and platforms
  • Technology for sustainability

II. Data-Driven Mining Decisions

Rapidly evolving digital technologies are providing opportunities to enable both better and faster decisions by making relevant data available anywhere and just-in-time.

Example Mets Solutions

  • Next generation digital infrastructure
  • Integration, interpretation and decision support

III. Mining Automation and Robotics

Recent technology cost and performance breakthroughs in robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, data communications and vision systems are enabling safer and more efficient operations.

Example Mets Solutions                                    

  • Adaptable and optimised equipment and instrumentation
  • Rapid deployment and low risk integration

IV. Advanced Extraction

Deeper, more complex and lower grade orebodies combined with the need for a lower environmental footprint will drive the development of advanced methods of extraction.

Example Mets Solutions

  • Modular and mobile equipment and infrastructure
  • Mine planning and process re-engineering

V. Exploration Under Cover

Worldwide most near-surface, high-quality mineral deposits have already been identified and developed, requiring new technologies to identify new reserves deeper under cover.

Example Mets Solutions

  • Real-time sensing and drilling technologies
  • Targeting and decision support platforms

Conclusion:

It is not hard to see the megatrends described above when looking at the Chilean mining industry. New supply coming from Peru is creating competition for Chile. High water usage in one of the driest regions means mining companies need to be accountable to local communities. Mines such as Chuquicamata are going underground because the highest quality ore bodies are being depleted. To combat low copper prices, mining companies are investing in technology to become more productive. This has forced mining companies to set up more complex data networks, manage large amounts of data, and retrain workers to manage these new tools.

What I appreciate about this report is that it accurately represents what mining companies are already requesting from their suppliers today. Many the companies I have spoken with over the last 5 years are well on their way to develop solutions to the problems that were laid out in the report. In fact, many of these companies are already here in Chile helping the mining industry. Next week I will showcase some of the companies who have unique solutions to the megatrends that the industry is facing.

Feel free to check out the report here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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