"We now have full autonomous drilling rigs in Australia and are looking for the right opportunity to bring that technology to Chile."

Can you explain the company’s history in Chile, its service portfolio for the mining industry and how it fits into the Thiess’s global strategy?

Thiess commenced operations in Chile in 2015 with a contract awarded to undertake pre-strip operations for a client in the Antofagasta region. That established our base, and we’ve used that initial entry as the foundation for future growth in Chile. As the largest mining services provider in the world, Thiess brings deep experience, capabilities and strength to optimise mining operations in Chile. A key service offering and differentiator for us is strategic mine planning, both short and medium term, designed to meet specific client needs. Drill and blast design and execution are also considered part of our core business with scope to modify this for client needs. Traditional load and haul of waste material and ore, as well as maintenance of all core assets and auxiliary equipment on site are included in our offering.

What are some of the current and upcoming projects you are working on, and how you were able to cushion the impact of Covid-19 on your operations?

In addition to delivering load and haul services and pit operations for clients in the region, we are exploring other opportunities, including at existing gold and copper operations as well as green field opportunities. The impact of Covid-19 has come in waves for Thiess and has certainly been an ongoing challenge to manage and reduce its impacts. Our priority has always been focused on the health and safety of our people. We have learned the value of being proactive and quickly taking decisions and implementing processes to protect our people and operations. Importantly, we have been able to limit Covid-19 transmission on site by following government protocols and directives, and enacting workforce and recovery plans quickly.

How does Thiess differentiate itself in the competitive sphere?

Thiess leads with its technical capabilities, bringing value through mine optimisation and extraction techniques that add commercial value to the operation, which in turn enables Thiess to move material more efficiently. We create lasting value for our customers, people and community by focusing on smart solutions when we go about our business and not just on moving the material volumes. Additionally, Thiess’ strong focus on safety across its global operations is very well aligned with the requirements of the local industry.

In what way is Thiess introducing innovation in sustainable mining solutions?

We now have full autonomous drilling rigs in Australia and are looking for the right opportunity to bring that technology to Chile. We are also going trialling a fully autonomous haul fleet project in Australia and look forward to bringing that to market in the future. Certainly, digitisation is our future. Through the convergence of operations and technology, we can create smarter ways of working that drive efficiency through the mining value chain enabling quality client outcomes.

How is Thiess responding to the trend in underground mining in Chile’s mining industry?

While Thiess successfully operates underground projects in other parts of the world, our current focus in Chile is delivering our core services in an open cut environment.

Can you elaborate on the importance of having a social license to operate in the industry?

At Thiess, we believe strong social performance starts with proactive, genuine and positive community engagement. This approach supports successful project outcomes by building understanding of culturally acceptable customs, managing community and stakeholder expectations, creating opportunities with local and regional business, promoting diversity and inclusion and, most importantly, paving the way for meaningful, two-way communication between Thiess and project-affected communities.

Areas that we are particularly proud of in Chile is the establishment of our Allies program, which supports LGBTIQA+ communities, increasing the diversity of our teams with our first female truck operator and 40% female representation on our leadership team, and building the capacity of our people and industry through scholarships and pathway programs.

What are the company’s plans and strategy for growth in Chile for 2021 – 2022?

In 2021 and 2022, our team is focused on fulfilling current contracts, adding contracts that fit our portfolio, and continuing to bolster the business for growth. We see tremendous opportunities in the region for the services Thiess brings and see us having a key role in providing sustainable solutions to customers.