"As the Chilean industry continues evolving towards sustainable mining, we expect to see our mine closure and environmental services grow further."

What have been SRK’s main milestones in recent years?

SRK in Chile has grown and diversified since its establishment in Chile in 1994 from providing support on just geotechnical and environmental services for local mines, to include most mining disciplines today as SRK covers a project from exploration to mine closure. During the last years, we provided integrated services to the mining industry around the world. Our competitive advantage lies in our ability to work in challenging conditions, whether extreme weather or remote locations. We leverage the skill and expertise of our engineers and consultants globally to ensure the best possible service for our clients.

Which demand trend is SRK witnessing at the moment in Chile?

Most of the projects we are currently studying are focused on mine closure, integrating rock and soil mechanics, hydrogeology, tailings, mining and environmental disciplines. We expect this trend to continue. As the Chilean industry continues towards sustainable mining, we expect to see our mine closure and environmental services grow further.

Evaluating the real economic potential of massive low-grade deposits is challenging, especially early in an underground mine's development. Our global experience gives expert, integrated solutions on every phase of a mining project. We had been involved from scoping studies and conceptual engineering stages to detailed engineering of world-class underground projects and operations. Main examples of this are Chuquicamata underground mine, Los Bronces UG project, Resolution Project (USA) and Oyu Tolgoi (MN).

SRK is a pioneer in applying the geotechnical risk approach to underground mines, formerly applied to open-pit mines. A detailed review can be found in the article submitted to the past MassMin conference, defining the geotechnical risk approach for deeps caving mines. The risk model provides management with the range of consequences of potential failures of mine pillars and other areas and how to quantify it; this is an example of an innovative solution SRK brings to underground mines.

How is the industry paying attention to climate change and ensuring environmentally sustainable projects?

Climate change is a concern the industry is taking into account. It is becoming a legal requirement to consider extreme hydrological scenarios in studies for new projects. SRK, therefore, supports mining companies by incorporating time-series data analysis and return period up to 10.000 years in the design and solutions for permitting, engineering design, environmental and mine closure plans.

Each project has its unique challenges and environmental considerations. Nonetheless, an issue we see multiple companies facing is that of water supply and scarcity, which also must be addressed under the environmental permit and the social aspect of a project that is increasingly a concern. Companies must strike a balance between the project activity and the surrounding community by ensuring their satisfaction.

Where would you like to see SRK in the next 12 months?

We are experts in technical mining services, bringing value to any project we help develop. Therefore, we will continue consolidating our presence nationally. Over the next year, our goal is to expand our presence in the region, namely in Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico. We also have some projects internationally in Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, US and Mongolia, which we wish to develop further. SRK has had a great relationship with the majors and mid-tier mining companies in Chile and will continue to provide world-class services.