Felipe Guerrero, Metallurgical Engineer
“MY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WAS ENRICHED
THROUGH MY TIME AT MINERA TRES VALLES”
The metallurgist, who was part of the research and development team at Tres Valles, is leaving his work to complete a master’s degree in sustainability in Europe.
Felipe, a metallurgical engineer from the Technical University of Federico Santa María, says that he was interested in chemistry from a very young age. This motivated him to pursue a career making contributions to the national industry through chemistry.
After graduating in 2015 and working as a data analyst in the accreditation process of his university, he began his first professional experience in mining by joining the Superintendence of Metallurgy at Tres Valles and taking part in the research of the chloride leaching project.
The salt leaching study was carried out by the Research and Development (R&D) team at Tres Valles with the objective of a reduction the time of the copper recovery cycle through the addition of sodium chloride and sulfuric acid during agglomeration and leaching.
JOURNEY WITH MINERA TRES VALLES
Within Minera Tres Valles you were a part of the team of innovation and project development. What was your previous experience with the process of leaching in a chloride medium?
During my undergraduate experience I participated in a student group dedicated to researching the use of chloride in the leaching process. This gave me the skills and knowledge required to work with the R&D team at Tres Valles to carry out the work on site.
My laboratory experience allowed me to be a part of the research group, since the metallurgy superintendent, Eduardo Hassan, sought to strengthen this area. It was then possible for me to go from academic tests in the laboratory to industrial tests on site.
What is the status of the salt project today?
We are now finishing the research stage of the project since we were able to scientifically demonstrate that the use of salt both shortened the leaching irrigation cycle and improved copper recovery.
Next is the execution stage, in which the economic benefits of implementation will be analyzed. My involvement in the project is coming to an end since my contribution was to demonstrate the technical functionality of the method.
Do you consider Minera Tres Valles a good place for the development of young professionals?
Yes, I think that because it is a mid-scale mining company you have the option of working in subjects complementary to your academic training. In my case, in addition to working in the laboratory with the metallurgy team, I had the ability to participate in the dissemination of the research. We had access to professional seminars and conferences and contact with experts who were able to visit Tres Valles and examine our work.
How would you evaluate your work inside the company?
My professional development was enriched through my time at Minera Tres Valles. I came from the world of academia and had no experience working with large groups, adverse situations, safety issues, and protocol concerns. Having to consider all these issues helped me grow professionally. I am now able to approach problems with a greater understanding of different perspectives and challenges. I previously did tests in the laboratory under ideal conditions and I had to adapt to real conditions where there is a need to control, organize, and plan effectively; all important lessons for an engineer.
NEW CHALLENGES, NEW HORIZONS
Within a few days you will travel to Europe to start a new chapter in your life. What can you tell us about this project that leads you to leave Tres Valles?
I made the decision to begin a program called “International Master of Science in Sustainable and Innovative Natural Resource Management” which is jointly taught by three European universities: Ghent University of Belgium, Uppsala University of Sweden and TU Bergakademie Freiberg of Germany.
The program is focused on the management and innovation of matters relating to natural resources. Each year, students from different backgrounds and specializations come together to form interdisciplinary teams and solve complex problems. In my case as a metallurgist, I can make valuable contributions in the topic of mineral resources.
Did your experience at Minera Tres Valles strengthen your application to this program?
My professional experience through Tres Valles was an important part of my application because all undergraduate activities and work experience are considered for admission and tuition coverage under the scholarship granted by the Erasmus Foundation of the European Union. The admission requirements were very high both academically and professionally, and I would not have been successful without the experience gained at Tres Valles.