Codelco's Chuquicamata Underground Project confirms search for new suppliers at Exponor 2019
Major mining companies have already confirmed their participation at Exponor 2019. One of these is Codelco, the state copper company that will participate with its operations, chiefly Chuquicamata underground, a project with $5.5 billion in investment, which will participate in the International exhibition in search of new suppliers of goods and services. This structural and strategic project, which will transform exploitation of the red mineral at the world's largest open-cast mine, will begin operations in July 2019; however, its construction will be ongoing for several years. This was confirmed by the vice-president of Projects at Codelco, Gerhard von Borries, who highlighted the fact that "construction for this project will be ongoing for many years: as the ore is exploited, construction will continue as macro-blocks are exhausted and new ones built. For much of the lifespan of this project, therefore, construction will coexist with operation". With this in mind, von Borries confirmed that the search for new service providers is ongoing. "From the construction of tunnels to electromechanical molding, support services, road sprinkling services, mechanical maintenance services, temporary auxiliary installations, there are endless numbers of major and minor services that this project will require throughout its lifespan, and therefore a huge opportunity for local suppliers in the Region of Antofagasta". Von Borries referred to the opportunity to meet a wider range of suppliers, particularly local ones. "Exponor is a great initiative to get the suppliers that projects like Chuquicamata needs all together in one place. Local suppliers have the advantage of, firstly, using local labor, and secondly, having a presence in the field, as opposed to those from the central region or even from abroad who have to come out every time that they need to supervise the work. In this sense, suppliers from Antofagasta will have an advantage, and must take advantage of this by being extremely productive in order to work with us on this project".
With construction of Chuquicamata Underground now 70% complete, the vice-president of Projects highlighted the progress made. "The shafts and production tunnels, the ventilation system and tunneling for movement of materials and personnel within the mine are all complete. What comes next, therefore, is the electromechanical installation of the ore crushing and transportation system up to the surface-level plant. In this area, the project has ten major contracts in place, at a maximum. Outside of these, there are hundreds of minor service, supply, engineering and auxiliary contracts that support the projects team in much of our work. Not just engineering, but also many minor services that complement the work of the project team". Similarly, von Borries pointed out that "we have been very clear in the fact that we need suppliers who are on board with productivity, who are very efficient and review their own processes in order to achieve better results. If we are not productive enough, the staffing levels of the project become unmanageable. We already project some 13 thousand workers at its peak. And if contractors can do the same work with fewer people, with more technology and planning, and greater productivity, that helps us and that is what we have been prioritizing". The 2019 edition of Exponor, which will take place from May 27th to 30th, with China as guest nation, has the backing of key actors in the sector such as Albemarle, Antofagasta Minerals, Codelco, Lomas Bayas, Minera Escondida, SQM, Yamana Gold and the Supplier Qualification System (SICEP). Its sponsors are: the Mining Council, Sonami, Sofofa, Aprimin, the Government of Chile, the Ministry of Mining, the Ministry for the Economy, Development and Tourism, Pro Chile and the Regional Government of Antofagasta. Its press partners are Minería Chilena, Radio Bío Bío and Reporte Minero. At the 2017 edition of Exponor business worth an annual 800 million dollars was projected, with the participation of a thousand exhibitors from 30 countries. There were 40 thousand recorded visits, 1,292 face-to-face meetings took place with 98 executives from 16 mining companies, and 7 site visits were held along with 120 technical talks, 3 after-office networking sessions and 3 seminars with 950 people participating. Over 300 innovations and technologies were presented in the run-up to the event.