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Feature Interview: Ignacio Garrido – Principal Community and Innovation Director

Ignacio Garrido, expert in open innovation, business, and regional development in the Chilean mining industry. Ignacio has more than thirteen years of experience in the mining industry with companies such as Codelco and BHP. He is currently working for the latter and holds the position of Principal Community and Innovation Director. Ignacio was gracious enough to discuss the development of technology and innovation in the Chilean mining sector from his personal point of view. 

Ax Legal: What is your role today in your current company?

Ignacio Garrido: I am currently an advisor to the open innovation program with suppliers. I am also the Director of local supply for BHP, promoting the contracting of materials and services with a special focus on SME’s that are located in both Antofagasta and Tarapacá Regions.  

Ax Legal: What kind of technology have you seen introduced into the mining operations in recent years?

Ignacio Garrido: Together with different suppliers, and always in conjunction with project leaders in operations, we have co-developed some distinct technologies. Today, we work with automated monitoring of the mills, use of big data to anticipate the dampness of the gravel, and to be able to make a better projection of it, and traffic lights that automate the discharge in the primary crusher. We receives signals through the software, which allows us to objectivity visualize the level of the crusher and subsequent discharge chambers. This allows the continuous operation in the feeder belt, and even manages to increase its productivity.

Also, we have found state-of-the-art solutions for dust monitoring at sites through digital platforms, which allows for diagnostics, monitoring, and running simulations. We also have a new opening and closing system for the buckets and shovels, managing to reduce failures by up to approx. 70%. Lastly, we have early warning system to detect red tide, which allows us to ensure the flow of water to our desalination plants.

Ax Legal: Are there any problem areas where new technology could make a difference?

Ignacio Garrido: Today our country has a great opportunity of making a difference globally by generating “green” copper. We are testing hydrogen technology, which allows us to replace all the diesel we consume to heat solutions in the electrowinning process, which is present at all three sites, particularly in Chile and Peru. This technology could also have uses in ships and thermoelectric plants, which would increase the scope of displacement of emissions. We believe that it is an excellent technology that delivers potential savings which is very positive.

Ax Legal: What are the typical problems vendors have when introducing or installing their technology?

Ignacio Garrido: From my point of view, innovation is 99% generated through demand, that is, by the user’s need, and 1% by the inspiration of the person offering it. What I mean by this is that it is imperative that the supplier listens to the site team leaders, site operators, superintendents and management, to understand the real needs of the user and focus 100% on it.

Ax Legal: How does the Northern Supplier Program work?

Ignacio Garrido: Through our partner Sawu and an online portal, we publish requests for quotation of goods and services, exclusively to SME suppliers in Antofagasta and Tarapacá. It is a competitive process that often receives more quotes than in other traditional purchase processes. It is ultimately our buyer who chooses the best option. In addition to the above, another advantage is that we have payment terms of six to seven days for our suppliers. It is a program that has exceeded our expectations, both in amounts and in the number of transactions, and above all, in the compliance of suppliers with fairly competitive levels of DIFOT. What makes us most proud are the words of many of these suppliers who thank us for the opportunity to work together since the opportunities really allow them to grow their businesses.

Ax Legal: Is there an advantage that foreign companies would have when establishing the company in the North of Chile?

Ignacio Garrido: There are no major advantages for foreign suppliers as they can access the same benefits as all other SME’s located in the Northern Region. With that being said,  I personally invite all foreign suppliers and entrepreneurs to come to Chile and to be close to their clients which is mainly in the North of Chile. 

Ax Legal: What types of products or services are the most sought after today?

Ignacio Garrido: The current trend is around digitization and automation of assets. We see that employees have a better opportunity to develop and learn new techniques of operating through digital transformation as well.

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 to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects are clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.

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