Positive results from open innovation at Antofagasta Minerals

By Sarah Rennie

For Nury Briceño, Principal Advisor of Innovation at Antofagasta Minerals, the most important innovations to come in the mining industry will have to do with time, representing a fundamental shift from innovation in processes that have historically taken place incrementally. “The greatest impact will be seen in the quick and efficient implementation of exponential growth technologies such as big data, AI, machine learning, and blockchain,” Briceño says, suggesting those who do this well will substantially improve their processes. Antofagasta Minerals, she notes, is one such company now firmly heading in this direction. Briceño, who has been with the company for nine years now, is presenting at this week’s GMG Santiago Forum.

Antofagasta Minerals is now into its second year in the process of implementing an open innovation model, designed to capitalize on both external as well as internal ideas, paths and capabilities to develop innovative new technologies. “The reality of the evolution of exponential technologies and the rapid changes in markets such as energy, telecommunications and information have forced the generation of innovation models that respond more quickly to the needs of the environment,” Briceño explains. The speed at which innovations evolve outside of mining is far greater than inside and using external entities to solve operational challenges allows companies such as Antofagasta Minerals to implement solutions much more efficiently. The model, which has been producing positive results, revolves around three key facets: precisely defining challenges relevant to their operations, finding and implementing processes that allow for captive available solutions, and having a team in place that is willing to take the lead on innovative projects.
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Briceño’s main responsibility at Antofagasta Minerals is to select the projects to be presented before the Innovation Board for funding. All projects presented must propose a solution to challenges prioritized by operations, and the solution must be validated at different stages of its development. The company currently has development projects to counter challenges in the areas of tailings, water, community and chalcopyrite leaching. The most important being the latter, where Antofagasta Minerals already has one patent and is working on project implementation. Innovation, therefore, is considered a strategic pillar within the company that supports and impacts upon other essential areas such as operations, safety, sustainability, and growth.

With her presentation, Briceño hopes to emphasize that for open innovation models to work effectively, external collaboration is not enough. “Mining companies must also generate their own internal processes to capture the value of this collaboration.”

Nury Briceño will be presenting “Open Innovation Model at Antofagasta Minerals” tomorrow at the GMG Santiago Forum.

Missed Santiago? You will have a chance to hear other innovation perspectives at the GMG Perth Forum August 14–15.