INNOVATION

"This is moving very quickly and will change mining big time"

Antofagasta CEO Iván Arriagada posed a series of questions as he considered disruptive solutions miners should apply to the workplace for <i>Mining Journal’s</i> Global Leadership Report.

Staff reporter
Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile

Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile

The boss of the Chilean copper mining group said digital transformation would change the way people worked and they needed to consider what it meant for a workplace that was less physical, less remote and more intellectual.

"I would expect to see more autonomy and remote operations," he said.

"The advantage of that is safety and better work-life balance but the challenge will be the transformation and loss of some jobs.

"I don't have an answer and if I look back at history and disruptive changes such as the steam engine, they've required jobs either as much as, or more than, previously - but they didn't know as that disruption was happening what those jobs would be.

"We need to work with our workforce and be prepared to be flexible with that change."

He also proposed considering new approaches to traditional mining methods.

"We mine 10 tonnes for 60kg of copper," he said.

"That has to change with selective mining.

"In-situ leaching: how can I leach ore and extract copper without removing the rock?

"How can we repurpose tailings by reprocessing for more metal or using tailings dumps as land for solar panels or just generally other functions?

"And how do we essentially move to a process that produces less waste?

"This is moving very quickly and will change mining big time."

This article was based on the answer to one of four questions Antofagasta CEO Iván Arriagada was asked as part of his interview for Mining Journal's Global Leadership Report. The report focus this year was ‘The Workplace of the Future'. The research included open interviews with some 20 major mining executives and a survey of more than 500 industry professionals. The results will be released in late August.

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