"We see an increase in mine development in Chile, as many clients are demanding feasibility studies and pre-feasibility studies."
How does Wood’s growth strategy in Chile differ from Peru?
Our clientele in Chile is relatively mature with operations for decades, such as Codelco, Antofagasta Minerals, BHP and Anglo American. Peru is still a developing market compared to Chile that we decided to best approach through mergers and acquisitions. Chile’s environment differs significantly from Peru, as mine sites are built in more remote locations with high altitudes.
We are working on the detail design for Codelco’s Chuquicamata at the moment under our underground mining division based in Santiago. We are seeing more potential for underground mining growth in Chile at the moment compared to Peru.
Wood also works in Australia, North America and Africa. Our focus in Australia is predominantly lithium, as we are working with Albemarle. On the other hand, in Africa we are working on copper, gold and platinum.
What trends are you witnessing for your services in the market this year?
We see an increase in mine development in Chile, as many clients are demanding feasibility studies and pre-feasibility studies. As Wood, we are developing the ‘Mine 2050’ concept for our clients. The mine of the future would rely on sophisticated technology using artificial intelligence, robotics and automation in mining processes to facilitate a fully automated plant and operation. Covid-19 has pushed the industry further towards the digitalization of processes overall. Mines are now looking to operate from control rooms in remote locations. However, some of our clients prefer task forces on the ground more than remote operations, mainly due to the risks surrounding complete remote operations, such as cybersecurity attacks.
Can you elaborate on Wood’s innovation in sustainable solutions for water and tailings management?
In Santiago, our Resilient Environments business is developing creative solutions for water and tailings management in the industry. Most mines in Chile use seawater to become more sustainable, and we are also seeing wind and solar power solutions playing major roles in the provision of electricity to the mining industry. Wood provides mining solutions that utilize applied intelligence to enhance operational and environmental sustainability.
Regarding tailings management, a solution often considered is the use of dry stack tailings as it significantly reduces the environmental footprint. However, the mine’s location and size may restrict it from using this method. Also, converting an existing mine’s tailings management solution to dry tailings would have financial implications that would require investigation to ensure feasibility. Some of the equipment needed for dry stack tailings has to increase in size to respond to current market trends. We are working with some equipment manufacturers to address this issue.
What potential do you see for the incorporation of green hydrogen energy solutions in the industry?
Green hydrogen is an area we expect to see immense growth in over the upcoming years. Wood’s track record in the technology, production and the use of hydrogen is decades-long, with a number of successful hydrogen projects delivered for clients around the world.
Where is Wood’s focus in the upcoming years to facilitate growth?
We successfully completed the Spence project for BHP, where our teams were hired as the integration contractors for the last four years. In the near future, we hope to leverage our expertise and offer the same service to our clients, which we think will be well received.