• Ten teams were selected to validate their technologies and / or products. They will receive samples of tailings and a US$ 50 thousand grant.
  • Three of the selected consortia are Chilean.

Ten companies and consortia were selected to advance to the Laboratory Test stage of the “BHP Tailings Challenge”, which seeks solutions and new business models to reuse copper tailings.

The call had been launched on June 16, 2020 and received a total of 154 applications from 19 countries.

The BHP challenge, which is carried out with the support of Fundación Chile ̶through the open innovation program in mining, Expande ̶will make US$ 10 million in grants available to developers The companies and consortia were announced on Tuesday in a virtual demo day, in which they presented their proposals to convert tailings into technologies or commercial products with a focus on: construction materials, fertilizers and artificial soils; generation of green hydrogen; development of mineral paper; low emission fiberglass and cement production; and use of solar energy to concentrate minerals, among others.

Selected teams:

  • Americas Tailings Inc. (United States)
  • Auxilium Technology Group LLC (United States)
  • Brimstone Energy Inc. (United States)
  • Circular Mine Consortium (Australia)
  • Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (Germany)
  • Minera Valle Central S.A. (Chile)
  • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Chile)
  • Sustainable Minerals Institute International Centre of Excellence (Australia)
  • The University of New South Wales (Australia)
  • Universidad de Valparaíso (Chile)

Selected companies and / or consortia will have a period of six months to validate their solutions at the laboratory level, after receiving the samples of tailings and the US$ 50 thousand grant. They will show their results in a demo day in August 2021, to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of their proposals.

A maximum of three of the ten teams will go through a pilot test in a controlled environment, a stage in which it is expected that they can prove that their processes operate in an integrated manner, are feasible at an industrial level, and their value proposition is commercially viable.

Finally, there will be a demo day in March 2023, in which the winner (s) who have reached a feasible tailings reuse solution from a technical and investment point of view will be announced.

Carlos Ávila, Asset President Joint Ventures of BHP, expressed the satisfaction of the company for the great interest generated by this call and assured that “the selection process for this stage focused on identifying initiatives with a clear value proposition, a strong scientific and technological base, and the potential to develop an accelerated scaling strategy. We hope that after 24 months it will be possible to move from idea to implementation of a sustainable business model for repurposing fresh tailings”.

Marcos Kulka, CEO of Fundación Chile, highlighted that the BHP Tailings Challenge methodology “has allowed us to capture the best solutions worldwide to solve a disruptive problem and leverage private capital for its development, mitigating innovation risks. We see that this can be replicated in transformational challenges in other industries. In this case we had 154 applications from 19 countries, which is a clear demonstration that the innovation ecosystem responds to these challenges; It is important to note that a third of the applications and those selected for the proof of concept are Chilean teams which shows that there is well positioned local capability, able to compete on a global scale”.

Andrés Mitnik, Expande’s Business Director, added that “BHP Tailings Challenge had a formidable response from the innovation ecosystem, which allowed us to know the global state of the art regarding tailings transformation. Now, the 10 selected teams have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to develop a new industry that allows significant progress in sustainability of mining. This is a demonstration of how our methodology allows us to tackle disruptive challenges”.

About BHP

BHP is a w orld-leading resources company. It extracts and processes minerals, oil and gas and their products are sold w orldw ide. Their purpose is to bring people and resources together to build a better world.

About Fundación Chile

With a trajectory of more than 40 years promoting the sustainable development of Chile, the organization has designed an open innovation model that has allow ed to change paradigms and face in an agile w ay the new challenges that the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) w orld imposes that has permanent change at its core. For this, it articulates the private and public w orld and entrepreneurs in search of new solutions and innovative responses that positively impact our society. Since its creation in 1976, Fundación Chile has been a strategic partner of the State of Chile, has generated more than tw o billion dollars in social value in industries and companies created by the organization, impacting on Chile’s competitiveness internationally.

About Expande

Expande is a public-private open innovation program, w hich seeks to promote an innovation ecosystem, from and to the mining industry, enabling the adoption of local technological capabilities that lead to the development of a more sustainable, competitive and global industry. This is made possible by mapping of the supply and demand of technology solutions; articulation and development of collaboration netw orks. The program also focuses its efforts on facilitating technology exchange, escalation and transfer; transferring know ledge and tools to the ecosystem; and supporting supplier companies that enable the development of an industry of goods and services around mining w ith an export potential. The public-private initiative, under the umbrella of Alta Ley National Mining Program, is co-designed and implemented by Fundación Chile and the strategic partners Corfo, Antofagasta Minerals, BHP, Codelco, Teck, Ministry of the Economy, Development and Tourism, Ministry of Mining and IDB Lab.