Out of the total number of applicants, no more than 10 finalists will be selected to move onto the laboratory test stage. The winning team or teams will be announced in March 2023.
A total of 151 applications were drawn by the “BHP Tailings Challenge”; an international call in search for technological solutions and new business models to reuse copper tailings and transform them in commercial products such as new materials or other applications.
The initiative was launched in mid-June and attracted the interest of innovative companies, startups, consortiums, research centers, and universities from 19 different countries such as: Chile, Australia, Canada, United States, Peru, Argentina, England, France, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, China, Zambia, South Africa, New Zealand, Spain, and Germany.
The challenge, which is being carried out with the support of Fundación Chile, through the open innovation program in mining, Expande, will make available a capital of US$10 million for the developers.
The proposals will be evaluated in September and October and a maximum of 10 of the 151 teams will have the option of moving forward into the laboratory testing stage and submitting their results in May 2021. BHP will then choose the three winning teams that will proceed to the field test stage. The final stage will be a demo day in March 2023, during which the winner or winners who have reached a technically and financially feasible tailings reuse solution will be announced.
Bryan Quinn, BHP Asset President Joint Ventures, indicated that “technology and innovative thinking will make our industry and the world better if we focus on solving the big problems. We need new, committed, and empowered minds to take the leap and move towards innovation and change.”
“If we want to expand our industry and our economy, keep on doing more of the same won’t solve the problems. That is why I am very proud to see that 151 different solutions were presented to solve today’s challenges which will help our industry grow and continue to deliver resources to the coming generations,” said Bryan Quinn.
Andrés Mitnik, Business Director at Expande, added that the BHP Tailings Challenge has been “a unique call worldwide both due to the complexity of the challenge it seeks to solve and the capital available for the participants. We are pleasantly impressed with the interest and international scope achieved by the call, where we demonstrated Expande’s current global positioning as an innovation hub in mining.”
The executive highlighted that “BHP Tailings Community has also become a great space for collaboration, where 91 companies from over 13 countries have participated, and where we know that at least five strategic alliances have resulted, which makes us tremendously happy.”