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BASF, CUN collaborate on mining research, development and innovation in Antofagasta

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BASF and the Catholic University of the North (UCN) in Antofagasta have signed a collaboration agreement to promote research, development and innovation in mining with the aim to strengthen the cooperation between academia, students and industry experts.

While leveraging synergies in the development of innovative products and solutions, the collaboration is also expected to provide career entry opportunities for promising mining talent.

As part of the venture, BASF established a technical service and development laboratory for flotation, hydrometallurgy and solid-liquid separation (SLS) at UCN.

The mining industry, which plays a prominent role in Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, faces many challenges in the areas of sustainability or digitalization.

With its mining solutions business, BASF said it can help the industry to overcome some of these challenges while adding innovation must play an essential role in the future.

“The cooperation will allow us to achieve several goals. On the one hand, we will be able to continue offering excellent after-sales technical service to our customers, and work together to develop innovative solutions to solve the challenges of the mining industry, and at the same time, it will give us the opportunity to work and support new talent in the field of mining research and development,” Leonor Ardiles, New Business Development Coordinator at BASF Chile, Head of the BASF Laboratories at UCN and awarded as one of the 100 inspiring women of Chilean mining said in a media release.

“This alliance offers us the opportunity to connect with a leading company on a global scale, so it is a mutually beneficial relationship. One of the largest chemical companies in the world has established itself at the Catholic University of the North with two areas of significant importance pertaining to the mining industry, such as solid-liquid separation and solvent extraction reagents,” Dr. Óscar Benavente Poblete, academic of the UCN Department of Metallurgical and Mining Engineering said.

“This partnership will provide students with employment opportunities, professional internships, reports, and access to BASF’s laboratories that will be available to teach and explain the processes they carry out.”

As an example, the launch of BASF’s LixTRA leaching aid requires extensive laboratory testing to demonstrate the benefits it can bring to a customer’s copper heap leach process.

The hydrometallurgy laboratory at UCN is fully resourced to enable column leaching to be carried out on customer’s individual ores. This, coupled with state-of-the-art analytical techniques, allows BASF to accurately determine the increase in copper recovery and the reduction in processing costs associated with LixTRA’s use.