After 20 hours of travel, our entire group of 38 have arrived safely in Santiago. Our first afternoon was spent getting organized before we went for a group dinner. We were treated to all kinds of traditional piscos and a delicious three-course meal. Our first impressions of Santiago are that it is a hectic but vibrant and diverse city.
Today we had a private tour of the Chilean Presidential Palace, known as Palacio de la Moneda. The palace was originally constructed to be Chile’s mint, where it produced coins between the years 1814 -1929. Since then it has served as the presidential palace, undergoing significant events in the country’s history. During the coup on September 11, 1973, Chilean president Salvador Allende committed suicide as the palacio was being attacked by the military. Since then, the palace has hosted a number of Chilean presidents, including the current and first female leader of the country, Michelle Bachelet. These photos show the changing of the guards ceremony which occurs every other day.
After the ceremony, we took a group photo with the guards in the presidential courtyard. This first taste of Chilean culture and history has made our group very excited to embark upon the next two weeks.
In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit with the Advanced Mining Technology Centre at la Universidad de Chile. UC falls among the top 20 mining schools in the world, and is renowned for its research regarding block caving, automation and overcoming challenges specific to the Chilean mining industry. We had presentations from Ph.D students researching sustainable water management, mining in glacial regions, stope stability design software, and in-situ copper leaching methods. Afterwards, we toured AMTCs block caving lab and automation centre. The photo below shows a masters student demonstrating one of the school’s laboratory-scaled block caving drawbell models. The model can be used to test automated mucking technologies as well as the impact of various bell design parameters on fragmentation requirements and percolation of fine material through the cave.
It was a great experience to hear from experts in the mining industry, and their perspectives on diverse Chilean operations. In the photo below, our group is on the steps of the “Escuela de Injenieria.” In Spanish, engineering is properly spelled “ingenieria.” The school was built in the 1800’s, and the spelling of many Spanish words has changed since. With UBC Mining Engineering celebrating it’s 100th year, it was unique to visit a school with much more history than ours.
Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the El Teniente tour due to unexpected flooding, the UBC Mining Class of 2016 will instead spend tomorrow visiting the coastal town of Valparaiso. Our first mine tour will be on Thursday, where we will be visiting the Andina mine.
Until next time,
UBC Mining Class of 2016.