Alexis M LR

How Escondida is using people to power innovation

At Minera Escondida - the largest copper mine in the world - continuous improvement means strengthening the approach to our work by consistently listening to our people and incorporating their ideas to make operations safer and more productive. And the dozens of Escondida Quality Circles comprised of employees closest to the work are doing just that.

But what is a Quality Circle? It's a group of four to eight workers who perform similar jobs and are trained to identify and analyze operational challenges, and implement solutions.

In April, we celebrated the first Quality Circle Conference at our Escondida mine site. 12 Circles presented their improvement initiatives not through ho-hum PowerPoint presentations, but through informative and entertaining skits. Transmitted across BHP’s Minerals Americas operations, each Circle engaged the live audience with their creativity, innovation and enthusiasm to share their learnings and solutions that are already having a positive impact on our three Company priorities: safety, productivity and culture.

Of the final dozen Circles, four were recognized for their outstanding achievements:

  • Safety Category: The John R. Battle Circle for their reduction of material risks during lubrication work.
  • Productivity Category: The Infiltrators Circle for their efficiency improvements in concentrate filter maintenance. 
  • Methodology Category: The Sherpas Circle for their success in creating cross-functional collaboration.
  • Popular vote: The Rabbits Circle for their visual laser initiative reducing risks of interaction with cables.

The Circles are empowering our people to take more pride and ownership in their work. Mine Operator and The Sherpas Circle leader Alexis Martinez said, “We are all committed to the same dream, to keep making Escondida a better place to work. Events like the Quality Circle Conference circles are proof of that.”