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Eco Mining Concepts Partner Companies come through with innovative projects to Minera San Pedro

Eco Mining Concepts Partner Company, Minera San Pedro ask to the public to present ideas for innovative green mining projects with the aim of thinking and creating samples in its mine in Til Til. Among the ideas presented by our members, Andrés Guerrero, general manager of Minera San Pedro, invited Fraunhofer Chile and Mankuk to visit their facilities.

While Fraunhofer Chile focused on solar energy for the mining sector, Mankuk proposed a tire revaluation project. In the interview, Alexander von Frey, Mankuk CEO tells us more about this project and its collaboration with KonaFuel company.

In Chile, approximately 130,000 tonnes of disposable tyres accumulate each year. A third of this amount comes from the mining and construction sector. With this percentage, the Chilean mining industry has a great environmental responsibility, since mining tires mostly end up being treated as waste – not resources – and therefore end up in the environment or in fillings. To sum up, recycling of mining tires represents a breakthrough towards more sustainability in the mining sector.

CAMCHAL: How and under what circumstances can discarded mining tires be reused?

Alexander von Frey: All available mining tyres can be reused. Kona Fuel made a sample, in which four hoop 63 tires were successfully cut and processed at one of its reactors at its Talcahuano plant. One of the great advantages of the pyrolysis process is that you can value any type of tire. For mining tires (larger) a previous process is required to decrease their size and be able to process them in reactors. In the case of the OTR hoop 63 tire (the largest existing tire), it must only be cut into 8 sections, in order to be processed.

The mining industry has great potential to convert its tires into fuel, or energy for its process. There is the experience and technology to do so. Seeing tires as waste in the mining industry is a thing of the past: tires are not only necessary elements for the production process but are a source of fuel and/or energy.

Do new technologies and digitization contribute to tire recycling?

Sustainable and massive tire recycling is a major challenge, in which new technologies can bring great value. Currently pyrolysis is one of them, but it must certainly evolve technologically to increase the efficiency and quality of the fuel (refining) resulting from the process, in order to obtain a fuel of greater commercial value. However, technological improvements are very important regulatory incentives in this regard, since in general, the inertia of large mining companies makes it difficult to implement new projects in this area, especially if it is a new and evolving issue. On the other hand, for successful projects in this area, it must have a balance between the technological (cost-influenced) and regulatory aspects (generates the need / obligation to implement such projects) and thus lay the foundations to be able to open or expand tyre recycling industry.

How can, not only the environment, but also Chilean mining benefit from tire recycling?

It is important to note that there is the possibility of revaluing tires during a mine operation will avoid the need for tire stockpiles and also the need for waranty papers associated with closure, as this environmental liability will be revalued, or processing, fuel and/or energy to be used in the same process.

The revaluation generates new raw materials / products, which, from the price point of view, are competitive. For example, the liquid fuel from NFU pyrolysis can replace Diesel oil in generation equipment, allowing the use of a good quality alternative fuel, but lower cost.

Not only big mining can benefit from this technology, but also medium- or small-sized mining operations by implementing fuel and/or energy tire conversion plants for their processes, by receiving tires from other industries, mainly the automotive and tire industries themselves. In this way they will be contributing to implement Eco Mining practices, by using unconventional energy in their process.

Mankuk is a partner of a tire valuation company, Konafuel How did you get to collaborate with Konafuel? What role does collaborative work for innovation in the mining sector play and how do you believe that greater collaboration could be achieved between different actors in the Chilean mining sector?

Throughout the consulting and advisory activity provided by Mankuk we have had the opportunity to relate to various industries, clients, realities and above all with people, who have valued our work, not only in the development of the advice itself , but in the way we approach and carry out our services. This generates bonds of trust that in cases translate into invitations to participate in projects as strategic partners.

Collaborative work is essential for the development of new technologies in any industry, there must be an interest and incentive for the incorporation of new developments, the desire to evaluate and test the technology and then use the products obtained from the processes.

The existence of legal frameworks associated with all aspects of developments, it’s interesting. For example, in the specific case of tire revaluation, there is the REP act, which generates an incentive for recycling, but there is no incentive that encourages or allows in an endorsed (regulatory) way the use of value products, such as liquid fuel, which creates obstacles in its commercialization, since it is not a “fuel directly derived from petroleum”, which generates mistrust in its use and limit the expansion of these projects.

The REP Law (Law on Extended Producer Responsibility and Promotion of Recycling) was established in Chile in 2016. With this law, the responsibility of Chilean miners to guarantee sustainable waste of their used tyres as producers was raised. Chile has ambitious goals in this regard. For truck tires in mines, the targets are recycling rates of 75% of the total number of tires dumped in 2024 and 100% by 2026. At this time, can we already see a big change in the tire mining sector after the introduction of this law or does recycling still represent “a drop in the ocean”?

The fact that the law is already in process generates an interest in identifying the alternatives that exist for the valorization of NFU and its validation. On the other hand, it has been seen, that companies generate real shares when there is a demand, therefore we will have to wait to see what happens and how the mining industry reacts. In any case, the REP Law is a starting point for awareness and concern to seek alternatives, but further progress must be made in ensuring the marketing of by-products of NFU revaluation

Source: Eco Mining Concepts