Chile’s I’MNOVATION open innovation startup program to address digitalisation in heap leaching

ennomotive has launched in Chile I’MNOVATION, an open innovation startup program by ACCIONA, a leading multinational in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. The program focuses on the development of new digital solutions to improve safety, sustainability, and productivity in mining.

To achieve this, three innovation challenges are open for submissions: on-site health and safety monitoring of workers; efficiency and digitalisation of the heap leaching process; and monitoring of tailing and copper-concentrate piping systems. ACCIONA and ennomotive says they “seek to co-create with startups, entrepreneurs, or digital technology companies.”

ACCIONA states: “In the heap leaching process, large portions of the land are irrigated with water and sulphuric acid to obtain a larger copper concentration in the drainage systems. This process is complex, is not digitised, and does not consider the copper concentration in each area because it is very difficult to measure. For this reason, the current sulphuric acid irrigation process is done evenly, which is not completely efficient. ACCIONA wants to make the heap leaching process more efficient and digitised by finding out the copper concentrations of the heap leaching stach in real time and also improve the supply of water and acid. Help us answer this questions. How could the leaching process become more efficient? How could the use of water and acid be optimized, considering the copper concentrations? How could the required water and acid supply be improved?”

In copper mining, copper concentrates and tailings (mining waste) are produced and carried through two different piping systems. These ducts are generally very long (over 30 km) and run mostly underground. “There have been occasional damages in this type of ducts, causing leakages with a high environmental impact. Knowing the condition of the ducts in real time would enable the anticipation of faults and the implementation of the necessary prevention actions to stop future damage. ACCIONA is looking for startups that help to know the status of tailings and copper concentrate pipes using a monitoring system that answers the following questions: How can faults be predicted and incidents anticipated? How can we prevent a leakage that affects the environment? How can the pipes’ maintenance plans be optimised?”

Finally, the mining and construction sectors are constantly working towards a zero-accident rate. Besides, in Chile, with the new regulations, mining companies are also responsible for a potential accident caused by a worker’s health issue (eg a heart attack). ACCIONA here is looking for startups with technologies that enable the real-time monitoring of the workers vital signs, actively managing their safety and health. Besides, the solutions must work in both open pit and underground mines.

For each challenge, the best proposal will be selected and awarded $25,000 to conduct a three-month pilot in Chile. ACCIONA will consider signing strategic commercial agreements with the winning startups to scale their solutions both nationally and internationally. The deadline to participate in the challenges is the October 28. See