Chile’s mining industry is committed to the long-term goal of becoming more sustainable, as outlined in state guidelines, and the country’s mining policy to 2050 calls for the industry to adopt a circular economy model and reduce waste. Requires the adoption of Extended Producer Responsibility Law No. 20,920. It is reused and resources are consumed more efficiently.
In response to these new demands, state-owned copper mining company Codelco, for example, has pledged to recycle 65% of its non-hazardous industrial waste and 100% of its mining tires by 2030.
In the private sector, Antofagasta Minerals is developing an initiative to produce steel for crushing balls from discarded tires from CAEX trucks in Minera Los Pelambres. Also, a local subsidiary of Australian company BHP recently sought a clean energy solution aimed at creating circularity. in passenger transport.
Clearly, there is a very long way to go to further implement such measures in the country’s mining industry, and experts say part of the problem is that knowledge of how to design better strategies in this regard is still lacking. It is pointed out that it is lacking.
To learn more, BNamericas spoke to Emilio de Giacomo, founding partner of Aurys Consulting, a company that specializes in process optimization and organizational circularity and is primarily focused on the mining sector. rice field.
Namericas: What are the circular economy principles?
De Giacomo: they are related to business sustainability. Today, we work with increasingly scarce resources, and circularity can break the paradigm of doing business. Strictly speaking, the purpose is to do more with less. is to do
The circular economy addresses not only environmental and recycling issues, but also economic, social and community issues. Companies should aim to minimize or eliminate waste in all processes, not just at the end of the chain.
Namericas: Mining is one of Chile’s most circular industrial sectors, according to Aurys research.
De Giacomo: The mining industry is playing a leading role in this issue, complying not only with local laws, but also with international demands that require new parameters such as ESG principles.
More sensitive to this issue, new generations are entering companies that have internalized these concepts, creating a leverage effect. However, this study found that this progress is just beginning.
Namericas: What Chilean laws promote circular economy practices?
De Giacomo: One of the triggers was the 20,920 REP Act created in 2016, which consolidated waste liability requirements last year. This involves suppliers and mining companies, who are moving towards not only complying, but expressing circularity as much as possible.
Namericas: How should we incorporate the circular economy?
De Giacomo: First, by integrating circularity into business strategies that also address sustainability challenges and ESG principles. There we need to measure impacts and benefits at the environmental, economic and community level, including the level of ambition of where we want to go. A lot of the time companies start with actions and people don’t understand why.
Second, the execution of the initiative. Here we need indicators to observe the level we are moving forward in relation to performance and systematic actions to achieve process improvement. For example, waste management or change of supply area.
Third, enablers. We need people, and this starts with sensitization and skill training.
Namericas: What are the most important areas of waste in mining?
De Giacomo: tailing and dumping. There is a need for more selective and precise extraction processes, and greater water recycling through tailings with lower water content. Other waste includes truck tires, steel, wood and plastic. These are arguably the main areas where work can now be done more practically.
Namericas: How does circularity work to reduce emissions?
De Giacomo: This includes reviewing processes and incorporating technology to manage metrics, reportability and electrification to achieve carbon footprint reduction and minimize waste. Circularity is a never-ending process. Improvement and incorporation of technology must continue over time.
Namericas: What mining companies are working with Aurys?
De Giacomo: We work with Antofagasta Minerals, Codelco, Collahuasi, Anglo American, Glencore, Compañía Minera del Pacífico and others. Our role is to clarify strategy and manage initiatives. We know mining issues are becoming more and more complex, so we work with a range of experts. Finding solutions requires different perspectives.
Namericas: Can the circular economy start with the daily behavior of workers?
De Giacomo: Circularity isn’t limited to the four walls of a company, it’s based on what people do. Results are more positive if workers are aware of the concept. One of our initiatives at the moment is to reduce plastic bottles. This doesn’t mean how plastic gets recycled, it means how I get rid of plastic. Changes in people’s habits must transcend companies and create a virtuous circle.
Namericas: Lack of awareness about the benefits of circularity?
De Giacomo: yes. By embracing circularity with a focus on better waste management, doing things more efficiently, using the least amount of resources possible, and creating the least number of jobs and process impacts Small and medium-sized mining companies may have gaps in process management and execution, but they can create more value if they adopt these practices. increase.
Namericas: Managing water resources is a challenge for the mining industry. What is the recommended practice method?
De Giacomo: An important aspect is how to close the water circuit, i.e. how to eliminate or minimize water loss using the same amount of resources. It has to do with the efficiency of the production system. The large amounts of water required for mining are either resolved in desalination plants or in non-desalinated seawater, depending on the process. But we also need to consider applying the concept of efficiency, minimizing extractions and viewing solutions as combinations of solutions.
Namericas: How can we address the circularity of mining transport?
De Giacomo: We need to rethink our transportation system. Electrifying trucks is not enough, but we need ways to improve energy efficiency, add renewable energy sources, and change the transport mechanism. Most of the mining industry now uses renewable energy at a very high rate. However, there is the challenge of electrification and how to efficiently and optimally transfer that energy to the process.