"Gold Fields’ Salares Norte mine is a pioneer in the incorporation of new technologies and innovative solutions."
What are ABB’s lines of business, and how do they relate to the mining sector?
ABB has four main lines of business, all of which add value to the mining sector. First, we are involved in process automation; secondly, we have a motion business through which we supply drives and motors. Our third line of business is related to electrification, through which we offer low and medium voltage products. In this area, we made a large acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions. Finally, we are active in the robotics sector.
What have been the company’s main milestones in the last 12 months?
ABB has been involved in the automation and electrification process of Gold Fields’ Salares Norte mine. We have also been engaged in Codelco’s Chuquicamata project for ventilation on demand, where this solution could provide savings of 30-50% in energy consumption. We are working hard to certify in Chilean Standard 3262 on Gender Equality and Conciliation (SIGIGC). We hope to complete this commitment by April 2021 and become one of the first Swedish companies to have this certification in Chile.
Finally, ABB has been involved in the most prominent mining construction project in Chile, in Quebrada Blanca Fase 2 (QB2) by Teck with most of the automation and electrification equipments portfolio, including GMDs, whole automation etc.
Which of ABB’s technologies has gained traction during the pandemic?
Automation solutions have been becoming progressively more popular throughout the years, much before Covid-19. However, the pandemic has changed circumstances radically and has given our clients an inevitable push towards the adoption of new solutions to counter challenges such as social distancing. For example, the project at Quebrada Blanca 2, which was inaugurated two months ago with our client Teck, includes a remote-control room in Santiago, and its design was completed even before the pandemic. Some technologies that have gained traction include several software packages that can add value to mining clients.
What is the extent of digitalization in Chilean mines?
The level of digitalization in Chilean mines is remarkable and is reflected in projects by companies such as Gold Fields who are incorporating solutions of energy efficiency, asset management and digitalization. As a reflection of the willingness to innovate in the industry, Codelco has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with an innovation mining cluster from Sweden, supported by Business Sweden, including companies such as ABB and other strategic partners and providers, with the aim of advancing on topics such as sustainability, optimization of efficiency and productivity, and to exchange information and cooperation among Coldelco and some Swedish mining companies.
Can you explain how ABB can optimize mining processes and add value to mining clients?
At ABB, we believe that the best energy is the one that is not consumed. In this sense, ABB has several solutions to optimize processes through automation, data management and software solutions for energy management, contributing to a more sustainable mining industry. An example of our company’s contribution to optimization, ABB carried out the transformation of an enormous truck by Swedish mining company Boliden from a diesel to an electric vehicle, reducing its carbon emissions significantly and boosting its productivity.
Can you elaborate on the contribution of ABB to Gold Fields’ Salares Norte project?
Gold Fields’ Salares Norte mine is a pioneer in the incorporation of new technologies and innovative solutions. ABB is currently working on the electrification and automation of this project. We will provide a digital solution based on Ability™ 800xA, including hardware and software, as well as six electric houses of approximately 700 square metres, with their electrical equipment, for the distribution of low voltage and medium voltage. We have worked with Claro and Nokia to carry out the first satellite test for this project, showing our client how Salares Norte, located in the isolated region of Atacama, can be managed from a control centre in Santiago thousands of kilometres away, but within reach of the satellite. Another test we carried out involved the use of 3D lenses to show how we can be constantly available for our clients, supporting them through new technologies from Santiago or from our ABB development units located abroad Chile.