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Codelco Turns to AI to Squeeze Out More Copper From Aging Mines

  • Machine learning has helped boost production at Chuquicamata
  • Now Chile’s state supplier wants to roll out AI at other mines
Trucks transport minerals inside a Codelco open pit copper mine in Chile.
Trucks transport minerals inside a Codelco open pit copper mine in Chile.Photographer: Cristobal Olivares/Bloomberg

Codelco is using artificial intelligence to squeeze out more copper from its aging Chilean mines as suppliers of the metal look to boost efficiencies amid a dearth of new deposits and growing demand. 

Battling falling grades, rising costs and growing environmental scrutiny, Codelco introduced a digital data center in 2020 that uses machine learning. The platform is adding about 8,000 metric tons at its century-old Chuquicamata mine, or $80 million in annual profit, the state-owned company said in a statement.