18 November 2022
Alejandra Ramírez is from Antofagasta and her interest in mining began with her father, who worked as a private security guard at Escondida, our copper operation in the North of Chile. “I was a mother for many years, a housewife, I knew nothing about this area, I did not know what it was like to be a miner, only heard the stories of my father. One day I applied for Mujer Minera program and that's where my interest in trucks and working on site started,” says Alejandra.
After working for 11 years in mining, mainly as a Spence Truck Operator, she decided to take on a big challenge and join the Apprentice Program at Spence for the Autonomous Drilling Project. “For me it has been a great experience and a new world. From being at home, to experiencing enormous personal growth and feeling highly valued as a woman in the company”, she reflects. Today, Alejandra is already part of the Spence Autonomy team.
“It has made me feel important to be a woman in an area that was only for men: for me it is a great achievement. I am seen me as an example in my family. It happened that I have nieces who have come here on field and have fallen in love with this and have studied mining. All this is thanks to the fact that they have seen the aunt, the mother or my classmates working”, she added.
Alejandra says that she loves to work on site but that learning autonomy has been a great plus. “It's like experiencing everything from the outside but looking into the future of something that I never thought I would achieve. I feel very proud of all the achievements I am having,” she says.
Autonomy in Spence and Escondida
BHP carries an important autonomy project in its two main copper operations in Chile: Escondida and Spence. These contemplate, in total, the incorporation of 85 autonomous trucks and 11 remote operation drilling rigs, representing the largest fleet with this technology in South America.
Spence already has five fully operational autonomous drills and has begun work to convert or replace 33 trucks in its fleet. Escondida currently has six drilling rigs in operation, in addition to four autonomous trucks. It is also developing studies to gradually incorporate 52 trucks with autonomous technology by 2025.