Copper mining has been a key driver of Chile’s economy for centuries. Among the country’s mining companies, the state-owned Codelco is the crown jewel. It’s the world’s leading copper producer with immense mineral reserves, and a driving force for the entire country’s development.
Codelco’s major mining sites include El Teniente, “the Lieutenant”, the world’s largest underground copper mine which has been in operation for 200 years and currently has a capacity of 400,000 tonnes.
The second largest mine is the century-old Chuquicamata, or “Chuqui”, as the locals call it. Since its open pit operations had grown increasingly uneconomic over the last years, Codelco made a huge investment switching to underground cave mining in 2019. Chuqui’s current capacity is 377,000 tonnes. Andina, the third largest mine nested at the dizzying height of 3,700–4,200 metres on the Andes, consists of the Rio Blanco underground mine and the Sur Sur open pit.
As of late 2020, Robit will be the main supplier of Top Hammer and Down-the-Hole drilling tools for Codelco’s three largest mines. This is a result of decisive cooperation between Robit and their Chilean distributor Full Safety.
Founded in 2010, Full Safety had focused on dealing in clothes and footwear for special target groups such as armed forces, law enforcement, health professionals – and the mining industry. The last-mentioned seemed like a promising sector for new business opportunities, and in 2015 they contacted Robit.
“We were looking for new strategies, and we met Robit at the right time. After consulting with them we restructured our business model over the next few years by opening a new office and recruiting sales personnel as well as drillmasters for field support. In turn, Robit offered us training and technical-commercial support on client visits, and participated in mining fairs with us”, recounts Cesar Cornejo, General Manager of Full Safety.
Getting a foot in the door of a global giant like Codelco is not a simple thing. Despite persistent efforts, discussions on arranging a comparison test to prove the quality of Robit’s consumables led nowhere. As a change of plan, Full Safety approached Astaldi, the main contractor at El Teniente – and they agreed to a head-to-head test between Robit and their then-current brands.
The February 2020 tests, involving bits, drifter rods and couplings, did not disappoint: Robit outperformed the competition by some 30% in terms of lifetime and penetration rate. A letter of certification by Astaldi opened the door to participate in a tender for Codelco. Full Safety and José Antonio Rodríguez, Sales Manager for Robit SAC, then carefully fine-tuned an offer that proved the most competitive.
This major achievement, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. The Chilean mining sector has vast growth potential for the Robit-Full Safety partnership, and several other tenders and product tests are already underway across the country.
Picture from left: Alberto Castillo (Sales Manager, Full Safety),Rafael Rojas (Drillmaster, Full Safety), José Antonio Rodríguez (Sales Manager, Robit), and Cesar Cornejo (General Manager, Full Safety).