Embracing operational excellence at Encuentro


    Ramiro Goenaga believes through teamwork and technical application of mining best practice, solutions to even the most challenging problems can be overcome. 


    Ramiro is a Technical Services Superintendent responsible for providing technical solutions for tendering in South America as well as planning support for the Encuentro Oxides Project in Chile. 
    The two-year secondment in Chile, allows Ramiro to share his expertise and help drive efficiencies to support production targets as operations in the region continue to grow. 

    An innovative solution 

    “Traditionally in Chile, most sites are run with rope shovels leaving the great majority of our mine planners and supervisors unfamiliar with the most efficient practices for backhoe configured hydraulic excavators,” Ramiro explains. 

    “It creates an opportunity for innovation and to employ methods we have not used consistently in Chile. 

    “We have even coined the term “Flitch Mining” to differentiate the full-face mining employed by rope shovels and front-end-loaders, from the bottom-side single bench mining commonly used by backhoes at most other Thiess sites. 

    “Flitch Mining allows us to preserve cleaner walls so that pit geometry is achieved - it creates less vertical interaction between the pit cut-backs, and substantially reduces damage to components from boom and stick stress, improving availability,” Ramiro said. 

    “By removing these problems, our teams can better direct effort and focus on productivity, optimisation and operational excellence. 

    “We’re in a stronger position to do preserve our equipment over the time and maintain high rates of productivity. 

    “The end outcome is sustainable return for shareholders as well as maintaining a solid business relationship with our client. 

    “It’s a good example of how we’re using the insight of our traditional operations in Australia to inform this process as well as leverage the strength of our technical solutions and procedures.” 

    More opportunities 

    Ramiro said the opportunity to work in Chile would build on his experience and add to his knowledge base of mining excellence in diverse commodities like copper and gold. 

    "As a mining engineer, we like to solve problems and the situations in Chile are very different to Australia with high altitude mountain mining in the Andes being the most obvious,” Ramiro said. 

    “Each situation is unique and comes with its technical and cultural challenges. 

    “I've also been able to represent Thiess by demonstrating our technical capabilities and how they add value to our client’s operations. 

    “It’s been satisfying knowing that Thiess’ technical expertise is above the benchmark in Chile and it's being positively received. 

    “Our commitment to meeting project deliverables safely and efficiently, and utilising current technology is what really makes us stand out.” 

    Thiess has operated in Chile since 2015, applying industry-leading best practice mining operations, with a safety-first culture and commitment to project delivery.

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