BHP taps Microsoft, AI, to improve recovery at top copper mine


FILE PHOTO: A small toy figure and mineral imitation are seen in front of the BHP logo in this illustration taken November 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - BHP Group has teamed up with Microsoft Corp to improve copper recovery from its Escondida mine in Chile, the world's biggest copper mine, by using machine learning and artificial intelligence, it said on Tuesday.

BHP estimates the world needs to double the amount of copper produced over the next 30 years to keep pace with the development of decarbonisation technology such as electric vehicles, offshore wind and solar farms.

Finding and building new mines is costly, difficult and can take upwards of a decade so miners are looking to next generation technologies to reap more metal out of existing mines and processes.

"We expect the next big wave in mining to come from the advanced use of digital technologies" BHP Chief Technical Officer Laura Tyler said in the company statement.

Using real-time data from plants that process ore in combination with AI-based recommendations from Microsoft’s Azure platform, plant operators will have the ability to adjust variables that affect ore processing and grade recovery, BHP said.

BHP, the world's biggest miner, is the majority owner of Escondida and operates the mine with partners Rio Tinto, and Japan's JECO Corp. Escondida produced more than 1 million tonnes of copper during the last financial year ending in June.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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