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Feature Interview – Mining Digital Project Engineer


We are starting a new bi-weekly article that will feature an interview with senior professionals from the mining industry. Our goal is to provide foreign companies with some insight into the Chilean market through the eyes of a local.

A senior engineer specialized in digital projects in Chile, tells us about the digital transformation in the Chilean mining industry.

We had the opportunity to speak with Federico Gálvez-Durand, an engineer with who has spent his career working in large companies, such as Oracle, IBM, Antofagasta Minerals and Teck.

Our discussion focused on the current digital change that the Chilean mining industry is going through, his thoughts on intelligent mining, and the implementation of digital systems, including his personal view on how suppliers need to approach the Chilean market. 

How far along is the Chilean mining industry in terms of its digital transformation? 

The current pandemic prompted various companies worldwide to make decisions on their traditional operating processes which has sped up the transformation. As of today, Chile has made the great leap into the digital age in multiple industries including mining.

Chile has gradually embarked on the digital transformation process. The objective is to maximize resources and to be able to give continuity to the daily operations of a mine in the best way possible. 

What technologies and processes are being used today in the Chilean Mining Industry?

Mining in Chile means that operational and logistical costs are high, considering that the production is often at an attitude of 4500m above sea level, being able to maintain a work team in the field is not easy. Considering these complex conditions to operate and the fact that moving workers to this altitude is even more complicated, technology is an important part of the future.

Today the goal is to focus on making the most of the available technologies, automating over 90% of the current operational processes, with the aim of having the minimum possible personnel in the field. The idea is to obtain benefits in the reduction of operational costs, accidents, and occupational risks. Currently, for example, we work with autonomous heavy machinery, with a distance of 1200 km between the operator and the machine, which is feasible to do and many other companies are doing as well.

The main challenge moving forward are integrating robotics, remote operations, cyber security, providing key information in real time, and automation of integrated operations systems. These technologies allow us to reduce human risks by a considerable margin and also facilitates the adoption of new skills by the work force.

The biggest challenge is to create digital innovation systems, make use of information stored in the cloud, and automation for heavy machinery.

What advise do you have for international suppliers regarding offering their solutions to Chilean mining companies?

The key is that foreign suppliers understand the idiosyncrasies of the country in which they wish to invest, as well as understanding the legal regulatory frameworks regarding how to operate in Chile or another country in Latin America. Internationally, the mining industry faces similar problems, but the culture of Chile is different than other places, so suppliers need to take time to understand these differences.

In addition, international suppliers introducing new technologies must show the effectiveness of their products and be transparent with customers. In summary, both international and national suppliers must transmit transparency to their potential clients, investigate the culture of the country, understand the real needs of each company, and have a clear understanding of the way they operate.

One of the great opportunities that exists today for both national and international suppliers, is to really know the needs of the companies that they are selling to. A mistake that many make today is to offer a product or service without being clear if it will be really useful for the user or on-going project. The key to success is to understand each client’s needs before offering a product or service.

Please note that the responses have been condensed in some cases for the readers convenience.

Ax Legal is a legal and business advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies with their operations in Latin America.

To better understand how we can support you in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at