Technological solutions are sought that allow the dredging of slurry from evaporation ponds to a reception tank in the proximity of the pond, reducing operational discontinuities, ensuring the quality of the slurry, without causing damage to the existing infrastructure and in a safe way for the personnel involved. Solutions are expected in different technological areas such as: mechanized or robotized systems for dredging, handling, removal or vacuuming of the pulp, operating from the surface (rafts or ad hoc equipment) or below it (underwater equipment), among others.
SQM’s current process is carried out by concentrating brines in evaporation ponds ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 m2. This is a batch process, since when the well is filled with salt it is necessary to remove it from operation in order to harvest it. In this process, heavy machinery enters the well to extract the salt. The consequences of the harvesting process include