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Pamela Antonioli, general manager of the Mining Innovation Hub of Peru, is optimistic and delighted with the digital transformation that is taking place in the mining sector in Peru. 
She considers that the greatest challenge is to safeguard productivity and safety in all mining processes and is convinced that today there is an enormous opportunity to innovate, considering that it is necessary to make more technically complex mining viable. Hence, new technologies are required to add value and achieve a more sustainable mining industry.

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Pamela Antonioli is an opinion leader in the mining world of Peru. For three years, he has directed the Mining Innovation Hub, an associative program that has the participation of 11 companies in the sector, which seek to identify and promote innovation and collaboration to address the great challenges of the sector. We talked to her so she could tell us about what is happening in this sector in her country and how, in her opinion, new technologies are being incorporated into trans-Andean mining.

Why do you think Peru is the most attractive country to invest in mining in Latam?

Peru is a country whose mining activity is not only relevant from the economic point of view but also constitutes an activity with high driving potential. Mining occurs from north to south in 17 of the 24 regions of the country, many of them remote areas, it involves small, medium, and large companies, and it includes global players that demand high standards; Thus, it has the capacity to drive development in the value chain and thereby contribute to the well-being of the areas of influence and to create synergy with other local productive activities. On the other hand, Peru is a polymetallic country, and its operations are both open pit and underground, which diversifies the productive chain that serves the sector.

What initiatives are you developing to attract new technologies to Peruvian mining?

From the Hub, the first thing is to have a robust network of contacts, which allows us to access various ecosystems at a national and international level with which to channel the challenges of the sector as well as articulate with innovators of various kinds with specific innovation proposals. Then we have designed spaces and activities to bring technological innovations closer to the sector such as work tables (mesasHub), meetings (meetHub), and open innovation processes of various sizes.

How has the collaborative work between Chile and Peru been in terms of knowledge transfer of mining innovations?

The relationship with Chile has been very close since the beginning of the Hub; In fact, the initial design of the Hub was carried out by Quintil Valley, a Chilean consulting firm specializing in innovation that has already created other innovation ecosystem initiatives focused on mining. Currently, many of our allies are from Chile: Quintil Valley, Antofagasta Scale Ventures, Alta Ley, CNP, Ciptemin, Fraunhofer, ProChile, and Minnovex and there is a large participation of Chilean startups and SMEs in the open innovation processes that we launch and that are currently are part of our portfolio of innovations. 

How has the digital transformation occurred in the mining industry in Peru?

Technological acceleration and the last few years of the pandemic have accelerated the adoption of 4.0 technologies; Many of the innovative solutions that we see have to do with capturing and analyzing in real-time the greatest amount of relevant information for decision-making and risk prevention. In this line, there are bets around the development of sensors and algorithms, connectivity, and integration that make it possible to take advantage of all the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, and big data processing in real-time.

What have been the learnings you have had to better incorporate new technologies in Peruvian mining?

I believe that an important factor associated with new technologies is the adoption component since there is a natural resistance to change. In this sense, there is a lot of value in how friendly it is for the user and in the support that is provided during incorporation. Here it is important to mention that the implementation of technology is not limited to the IT area, but there must be involvement of all areas that can be related to technology and, if possible, have "champions" or internal ambassadors.  Another factor to take into account is that many times you work in a context with limited connectivity.

What are the main initiatives that are being carried out so that Peruvian mining becomes a green, respectful and sustainable mining industry?

Mining is a sector that has always sought to adopt technologies in order to optimize operations and improve efficiency; however, in recent years innovation has been taking on a more strategic role and is addressing environmental and social issues. Thinking about the mining of the future is thinking about mining that is increasingly sustainable and harmonious with the environment in which it takes place, and technology is also an important tool in these areas. At the Hub we have tables aligned to ESG such as communities, environment and sustainability, tailings, and decarbonization; likewise, many of the challenges that we channel to the ecosystem are aligned with contributing to sustainable mining.

What do you consider are the main challenges of the Peruvian and Latam mining industry by 2023?

A permanent challenge has to do with improving productivity and safety, so solutions are always sought that aim to minimize variability and increase the resilience of processes, as well as to avoid worker exposure, through alerts, training with virtual/augmented reality, to the very elimination of the person in risky environments. However, there is an enormous opportunity to innovate today considering that it is necessary to enable technically more complex mining with lower ore grades and provide solutions to the socio-environmental challenges that not only the sector but also the country faces. Thus, some areas in which we would like to see more innovations are renewable energies, circular economy, new technologies/bioremediation processes, technologies with a shared value approach, optimization of water use, mine closure, and shared infrastructure, among others.

What are the goals of the Mining Hub of Peru for the year 2023?

Some objectives that the Hub has specifically set for 2023 are to increase funding for innovation, engagement with partner collaborators, the approval rate of innovative initiatives that enter the pipeline and continue promoting collaborative initiatives. Next year, at the level of activities, we will relaunch PeruminHub (3rd edition) with some surprises, we will open a tableHub of operational excellence and we will expand our offer of workshops and networking to the members of the Hub. Finally, as a program we always want to continue adding partners and growing in our redHub; Part of our raison d'être is collaboration, and therefore the more partners we have, the more we can share and we will also be able to address more innovations collectively.

Thank you Mingda Li for sharing with us!

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