Photo credit: SMI-ICE-Chile

Mine closure is an integral phase in the mining industry, although it is a global challenge. Research projects in this area consider the risks and opportunities associated with the complex dynamics between environmental and social issues related to closing a mine. The frameworks that analyse the risks and opportunities are developed and applied to site to support in the development of technologies and strategies for a successful and sustainable closure. We study the scope of social aspects in closure stages, the differentiated identification of impacts in communities, and the strategies to carry out initiatives that generate opportunities for development of territories. Likewise, we carry out study for the identification, characterisation and validation of available technologies and tools for sustainable closure of tailings deposits, gangue and leach pads that ensure physical and chemical stability of the deposits.

Achieving excellence in the social performance through the acknowledgement and understanding of the relevance of community relations, participation and dialogue, and in collective decision making in territories is priority of the industry. The generation of shared value is possible if an intersecting social risk analysis is applied, permanently, and if the relationships established with the communities are collaborative and symmetrical. We propose projects that identify and measure the social risks at any stage of the mining life cycle, defining strategies and systems to monitor results. Likewise, we propose a participatory way of collecting environmental data through the design, implementation and validation of simple and standard sensorial systems adapted to the local context.


Photo credit: SMI-ICE-Chile. Pascua Lama, Chile


Photo credit: Codelco Radomiro Tomic, Chile

There are fewer and fewer discoveries of new ore bodies discovery while mineral grades of current and future operations are decreasing. The minerals to be processed have greater impurities that affect the economic appeal of mine site, while at the same time certain elements appear and in time gain greater importance due to their commercial value. This area of research works with the associated challenges of minerals which are difficult to extract, process and value economically. Projects focus on the correct characterisation of the mineral, defining the technological changes required for metallurgical processing, and the development of innovations in processing at a global level. An integrated and innovative approach is considered for the treatment of complex minerals to increase their economic appeal and make their exploration feasible. Likewise, community involvement and the timely identification of environmental challenges is included.

There are great opportunities for the application of innovative technologies in unitary process controls, mine-port integration, and greater and better use of large quantity of available data. This line of research is focused on substantially improving productivity in mining operations, adopting a new focus related to modelling, operational control, digitisation and automation areas. Digital transformation today allows for a more innovative, proactive and efficient approach to operational health and safety, not only in early detection of adverse work conditions but also their prevention. The objective of this research is to maximise the performance of installed capital and of the teams involved, making an optimised and responsible use of material and human resources available in a given mining operation.


Photo credit: Codelco El Teniente, Chile


Photo credit: SMI-ICE-Chile. Minera Candelaria, Lunding Mining Chile

Greater energy efficiency is achieved through the correct characterisation of an ore deposit regarding its energy requirements for extraction and processing. Through the design of a plant and a control strategy operational variability minimised and the use of the installed capacity is maximised. And through the integration of am energy generation, distribution and consumption in order to maximise the use of potency at the mine site. The reduction of the carbon footprint of mining operations and the lower energy costs associated are the primary expected benefits of this work. SMI Australia is directly involved in work carried out in Chile on this topic through the Mine Energy Transformation and Integration Program (METI).

Recent work in this area is related to quantification and prioritisation of opportunities for greater energy efficiency in milling and classification. SMI Australia is directly involved in work carried out in Chile on this topic through the Mine Energy Transformation and Integration Program (METI).

SMI-ICE-Chile carries out projects for the optimization of mine-plant operation including mine-plant integration; development, review and implementation of geometallurgical programs; and training of site staff in the different available software such as JKBlast, JKSimMet, JKSimFloat, and JKMetBal. These programs, respectively, allow the user to model and simulate blast, mill and flotation processes as well as carry out mass balances. The recently developed JKVBOC program allows to model the shift and dilution of minerals during blasting, which in turn allows for control of the mineral fed to the plant in value-based ore control. This is an area has direct contact with universities in Chile, where it offers academic versions of the software, free to use by future generations of mining professionals who can benefit from modelling and simulation capacities throughout the mining production chain.


Photo credit: SMI-ICE-Chile. JKSimMet


Photo credit: Codelco El Teniente, Chile

Development and advances in occupational health and safety and risk management are priority in the global mining industry. Through the development of models, critical controls, best practices and training of thousands of people in Australia, South Africa, Asia Pacific, Brazil and now Chile and Peru, this area of work is linked to the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre (MISCH) in Australia. This area focuses on projects related to safety culture using its in-house created model for Maturity Path in Safety, Health and Environment; in training of the different levels of G-MIRM (Global Mining Industry Risk Management); and in the design of solutions and strategies for the control of dust and particulates.

The primary challenge of the Chilean mining industry are water resources. Projects in this line of work seek to develop highly efficient, profitable, and long-term solutions that generate value for the industry, other stakeholders and the environment. The impacts of climate change, which affects the risk profile of an operation as well as future costs; efficiency of water use, identifying global best practices and implementing frameworks and guides established by SMI related to water management; sustainable water sources that reduce costs for water provision and risks through the optimisation of resources, infrastructures and others within a mine site and between multiple users; and the mine lifecycle analysis which implements a way of thinking about the operation to face and mitigate current and future risks.


Photo credit: SMI-ICE-Chile


Photo credit: SMI-ICE-Chile. Cerro Lindo, Peru

Projects related to tailings management use a systemic thought approach which considers physical, environmental and social aspects, while at the same time focusing on risk reduction, pollution prevention and the recovery of valuables and resources. Some of the aspects considered in this line of work and the projects carried out encompass acid mine drainage, which uses technologies and processes to prevent their generation and ensure the chemical stability of the tailings; the geochemical stability of the deposit, developing integrated strategies and methodologies to mitigate potential impacts on the environment and human health; water recovery through technologies to maximise recovery and improve the stability of the deposit; and circular economy of tailings, to identify, characterise and develop innovative technologies and methodologies to generate value through this resource.

General Enquiries

+56 2 2307 9710


Sustainable Minerals Institute International Centre of Excellence Chile
The University of Queensland

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