From the top of the Titanium Tower, in the financial centre of Santiago, professionals from Anglo American mining company are now operating and monitoring in real time the Los Bronces copper mine and plant which are 56 km away at over 3,500 m altitude. They do so from the first Integrated Remote Operations Centre (IROC) that Anglo has installed worldwide, which was inaugurated remotely by the Biminister of Mining and Energy, Juan Carlos Jobet; the National Director of Sernageomin, Alfonso Domeyko, and the Executive President of Anglo American in Chile, Aaron Puna.
“This is an example of the mining of the future; mining which is making a huge contribution to life in general; that is generating enormous transformations; that is advancing in the incorporation of clean energies, desalinated water and technology, but at the same time is thinking about the safety and quality of life of its workers, who have stopped travelling to conduct tasks that can now be monitored remotely,” said the Biminister.
He added: “We need our mining to be safe, competitive and sustainable, and the inauguration of the IROC is an example of that. I am sure that an Integrated Operations Centre like this will allow the company to make more efficient use of resources.”
The space incorporates artificial intelligence technologies and work routines that allow the integration and search for a global optimum through a digital model of the mine, which operates to monitor compliance with the weekly plan online. It is the digital brain of the copper deposit operation.
The IROC has 32 workstations that receive the information sent by more than 700 cameras and thousands of sensors installed in the mine, which capture the different processes to extract and process the minerals. These images, and the information obtained, are transmitted through fibre optic connections to maintain communication security, to the remote office where they are distributed over 150 state-of-the-art screens, a videowall with 50 servers, and different computer systems that are used to analyse data and processes.
“At Anglo American we are putting innovation at the center of everything we do. It is the first Integrated Remote Operation Centre that Anglo American has set up in the world, and it has decided to do it in Chile, in the most important mine in the copper business operated by the company, so we are very proud. This project is part of our FutureSmart Mining approach, which seeks new ways of mining, where technology, digitisation and sustainability go hand in hand. This is how we continue to reimagine mining to improve people’s lives, in this case, our workers and their families, who will see a substantial improvement in their quality of life,” explained Aaron Puna.
From this centre it will be possible to observe the processes of geomechanics, drilling, loading and transportation, mine services, crushing, grinding, flotation, pulp transportation system, and cathode plant; and it will contemplate areas of support to the operation, such as maintenance through the monitoring of conditions of mine and plant equipment, logistics of supplies and products, mine planning equipment and metallurgy, to optimise the production chain.
The IROC will allow around 100 people to perform their duties in a shift system. Of these, more than 80% are operators who previously had to go up to the site and who from now on will work just as connected to the operation, but from Santiago, reducing travel times and exposure to the high altitude and extreme climate conditions of Los Bronces. This is complemented by the telework policy that the company adopted several years ago, prior to the pandemic, and which has allowed more than 800 employees to work remotely.