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The renowned geologist and director of mining companies is convinced that, due to the large amount of information that we are generating today in the exploration processes, new tools such as Artificial Intelligence do nothing more than expand the capabilities that human beings have in this area and allow a more efficient and complete geological work to be done to address the new existing difficulties.


It is well known that mining is one of the engines of development in Chile and, therefore, one of the most observed industries abroad. This has forced the different companies and actors in the ecosystem to gradually incorporate new technologies into their processes and operations to make it more competitive and attractive worldwide. Thus, slowly we have been able to witness a digital transformation within organizations, which 5 years ago would have been unthinkable.


To find out how this change has been taking place, how quickly it has occurred and what challenges it has brought to the industry, we spoke with a renowned geologist and director of mining companies who has worked for years in the sector. We are referring to Vicente Irarrázaval, who in this interview shares his valuable insight and interesting recommendations from him.

How do you think mining has evolved in the last 5 years? Could we talk about the arrival of digital transformation in this industry?

Without a doubt, digital transformation reached this sector. Before, little was said and known about digitization in mining, especially in areas such as mineral exploration. The concept of mining 4.0 and the incorporation of digital technologies have entered the mining industry very strongly. We have realized that the incorporation of technology and innovation has a direct impact on the mining business, and this has gained more strength in the last 5 to 10 years.

Do you think that this has become a necessity for mining companies or is it still just a declaration of good intentions?

For many, it is still a declaration of good intentions, but I see more and more people convinced of the importance of using new technologies to be able to face the great challenges that mining has in the world, especially exploration in a world that demands raw materials. It is increasingly complex to find deposits and mine, so new technologies are becoming more and more necessary to face the new challenges we are having.

In the mining exploration stage, how much have new technologies been integrated? Are they necessary?

Exploration is by definition a difficult industry in which a myriad of variables are involved. Finding a mineral deposit that becomes a mine is very difficult, therefore incorporating technology into the process of discovering new deposits is key. In my experience, the mining industry has always been incorporating new exploration methods and processes in the areas of geophysics, new types of satellite imaging and processing, various geochemical methods, etc. All this is to identify and analyze the variables that combine to give rise to a mining discovery. However, the speed of development of new technologies in recent years has increased significantly, as have the challenges of the industry (discovering deeper reservoirs, with lower grades, covered, etc.). This has brought new challenges for exploration teams, perhaps unexpected in the past, such as being able to efficiently analyze the large amount of data that is generated in exploration today.

What is the value of having software like Mineral Forecast for mineral exploration? What would you say is your main contribution?

Definitely helping exploration teams in the efficient acquisition and processing of data and providing objective support for executive teams' decision-making. Among the multiple data of geology, geochemistry, and geophysics, dozens of layers of information are easily generated that must be analyzed. As human beings, it is very difficult for us to be able to process all this information simultaneously, and correctly. This is where the contribution of tools such as Mineral Forecast helps substantially. Additionally, it allows for a quantitative analysis of the data, something that is scarce in the analyzes that are traditionally done in exploration teams. With this, we can objectively prioritize and rank sectors not only under qualitative criteria of the geological model but also quantitative ones based on the information that has been collected.

Do you think that these types of tools are still seen as a threat to people or are they already seen as a complement?

These tools used correctly are definitely a very relevant complement. As I mentioned before, with the large amount of information that we are generating today in the exploration processes, these tools expand the capabilities that humans have. Perhaps there are a few left who may perceive these new tools as threats. I definitely see more and more people who understand that tools like artificial intelligence allow us to do more efficient and complete geological work to address the new difficulties that we have.

Thank you Vicente for sharing with us!

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