An Interview with Guillermo Otárola C.

by Fleming. Team

​An Exclusive interview with Guillermo Otárola C., Project Manager, Mining Entrepreneurship, Fundación Chile

Fleming: What are the main initiatives of Fundación Chile and how do they help the mining industry?
Guillermo Otárola C.:
Fundación Chile (FCh) is dedicated to contribute to increase competitiveness and economic development through innovation.
Under this purpose, FCh has delivered support to the Chilean mining industry with initiatives such as:

  1. The World Class Suppliers Program (Programa Proveedores de Clase Mundial {PPCM} in Spanish), co-developed along with BHP Billiton, Codelco and many other private and public organizations, where we provide a platform to define challenges faced by mining companies and then seek for solutions among suppliers based in Chile and promote a collaborative environment for the development of innovative solutions and the growth of suppliers. Nowadays, a new program called High Grade Mining Program (Programa Minería Alta Ley {Alta Ley} in Spanish) started to reunite under the same goal in order to integrate mining companies, local suppliers, large providers, centers of excellence, entrepreneurs, government agencies and all those actors that will strengthen the service industry and technology associated with the mining industry and expand the impact of the former PPCM. FCh is coordinating these efforts through an Open Innovation Program for Mining.
  2. The Mining Competences Council (Consejo de Competencias Mineras {CCM} in Spanish) suporting the Mining Council. The CCM provide the industry with information, standards and tools to tailor the training of technicians and professionals and meet the demand of the mining labor market, both in qualitative and quantitative terms.
  3. FCh also has developed different initiatives for a more sustainable mining industry in Chile, by introducing solar power, fostering the reuse of water and waste, the remediation of acid soils, among other specialties in Sustainability.

Fleming: Can you tell us more about a particular project your organization is preparing?
Guillermo Otárola C.:
The Open Innovation Program for Mining contributes to the development of the private sector through the development of local SMEs’ capabilities to deliver technology and knowledge intensive products and/or services in the large-scale mining industry’s value chains. The project will develop and implement an Open Innovation methodology that will create interactive connections for the development of new technologies through collaborative knowledge sharing and engagement. In addition, the project is aligned with the strategic direction of “value capturing and value creation through entrepreneurship” as it supports a mechanism for improving commercial scale-ups of solutions. Furthermore, the project’s results would be replicable in other areas of economies, given the mining industry’s required state-of-the-art technologies, thus its potential to scale and generate positive spillovers.
The project will also help the Chilean policy makers formulate strategies for resource-based industry development. These strategies would include not only how to increase the resources value; more importantly, they would include improving efficient innovation management through technology and product differentiation, and building a learning system to support continuous improvement, which would be applicable to those sectors other than the mining industry. The project, well-coordinated with Competitiveness and Innovation Division (IFD/CTI) of IDB, has strong support from Chilean public organizations such as the Ministry of Mining, CORFO, Chilean Copper.

Fleming: What are the main reasons why companies should invest in innovative solutions?
Guillermo Otárola C.:
Chile is responsible for 32% of worldwide copper production, making it the largest producer of copper in the world. Also more than 30% of the proved reserves are set in Chilean territory.
Mining firms in Chile, however, face unique challenges such as the rising cost of key inputs and increasing difficulty of mineral extraction at greater depth in complex geographies. Chile’s cost of electrical energy is on average 95% higher than other mining countries. Similarly, water costs are 21% higher than Peru, a country with deposits at average altitudes similar to Chile's. Low level of labor productivity coupled with high costs of key inputs is the principal challenge to be addressed by the entire industry; while labor costs have increased 80% in the past decade productivity has only increased by 36%. All of these constraints represents opportunities for suppliers to develop unique skills products and services, and in order to surpass market or coordination failures, FCh works with mining companies an suppliers and with entrepreneurs through its support programs.

Fleming: What technological trends do you foresee in the future for mining industry?
Guillermo Otárola C.:
Concepts like Smart Mining, Big Data and IoT are technological trends already starting to look at the industry, in particular our current portfolio of emerging companies that are developing technologies for mining, some consider these technologies and others the complement with technologies virtual environments, wearables and monitoring system based on Cloud technology.

Fleming: How will the conference benefit our attendees? Can you give us a short intro to what your presentation will include?
Guillermo Otárola C.:
Those attending to the conference will learn about trends in new technologies in the field of Smart mining and cases of emerging Chilean companies that are developing technology for the industry addressing different areas such as data processing, mobile technologies, software and immersive 3D technologies.

Meet Guillermo Otárola C. at the LatAm IT, Communication and Automation Summit and hear his presentation on “Smart Mining Development Through Entrepreneurship”

South America Mining

LatAm IT, Communication and Automation in Mining

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