BHP launches tailings innovation challenge

June 23, 2020

Seeking to promote the development of innovative solutions for repurposing copper tailings, BHP, the world’s largest mining company has launched a tailings innovation competition in which it will award US$10 million in grants for research into the reuse of copper tailings.

As BHP aims to make progress in the reduction and recycling of industrial waste it has developed specific guidelines for the efficient use of all the resources used in their operations and the protection of biodiversity in the places it operates. Also, it wants to contribute to a more sustainable economy where there is an extension in the use of resources.

Launched in association with Fundación Chile - a public-private organization aiming to promote sustainable development in Chile- BHP's Tailings Challenge invites institutions ranging from start-ups to universities "to develop new technological solutions and new business models for reusing copper tailings, such as turning them into commercial products via new materials or other applications."

Chile is home to the world's largest copper mine, Escondida, which is operated by BHP.

Interested parties have until August 21 to submit applications, which "must demonstrate execution capabilities to conduct laboratory/ concept tests that are robust enough to ensure transition to a pilot in an operational environment."

Winners will be announced at a demonstration day in March 2023.

Chile's mining minister Baldo Prokurica praised the initiative, saying it allowed the mining sector to be more sustainable and competitive.

"Mining is fundamental for the development of Chile, but it must always be subject to sanitary criteria and respect for the environment and its communities," he said.

"Mining will provide us with an indispensable lever to face the post-pandemic with job creation and development for the country, because mining has never failed Chile," he added.

Photo: BHP’s Escondida copper mine. Courtesy, BHP.
 

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