The BHP Tailings Challenge continues to advance and it is in the process of identifying the best solutions and new business models to reuse copper tailings, and thus contribute to a more sustainable economy that integrates social and environmental aspects.
In September (1 and 2), a BHP commission made up by Ingrid Oyarzún, Head of Sustainability Innovation; Carlos Aros, Lead Innovation Procurement Americas, and Brigid O’Brien, Head of Ventures, traveled to the United States to evaluate the progress, define the next steps, and visit the facilities of the companies that were selected to advance to the Pilot Test stage under controlled condition: Auxilium Technology Group and Americas Tailings Inc.
The visit started on September 1 in Tucson, Arizona, where the Auxilium Technology Group laboratories are located, an opportunity where the executives were able to learn in greater detail about the work plan that the company is developing for the pilot stage, as well as the strategic partners that they are working with.
The team continued their tour on September 2, this time heading to Denver, Colorado, where the Americas Tailings facilities are located. There they were able to meet the company’s management team and learn about the progress of the pilot that they are planning to develop in Peru and for which various local partners have already joined.
“We are very happy to have been able to meet the teams in the field, to witness their progress, the alliances they have been able to promote, and evaluate the next steps for the delivery of the tailings samples. The truth is that the companies were very happy to meet members of the Innovation and Ventures leadership team, an opportunity where they got feedback to adjust and model their proposals, ahead of the final demo day where we will be in a position to learn about the progress of this stage”, assured Carlos Aros, Lead of Innovation Procurement at BHP.
Solutions and proposals
Auxilium Technologies Group
The company has a solution called Entail™, which contains several components that address water treatment and purification, extraction of mineral content from tailings, and production of a unique geofoam from tailings resulting in a viable and sustainable solution for the construction industry, without the generation of any mining waste.
Americas Tailings Inc.
The company proposes to reuse fresh tailings for the production of natural, bio-mineral and nutrient-rich fertilizers from materials contained in the tailings, using patented technology that combines the raw material of waste rock with biomass to produce a bio-mineral based fertilizer for the soil (BioRoc) and a liquid bio-mineral fertilizer (RocTea), where the elements typically deemed as harmful or polluting (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Cu, Zn) are the main components of these fertilizers with high nutrient content.
The companies are awaiting the arrival of tailing samples from South America – where the industrial pilot will be carried out – to start the testing that will allow them to know and evaluate whether their solutions operate in an integrated manner, are feasible to escalate industrially and are commercially feasible.
January 19 2021 – Demo Day (Selected for Concept Test)
April 20 2022 – Demo Day (Selected for Pilot Test)
2022 (Monthly) July 2023 – Demo Day Final (winners announcement)