GBR: The Global Tailings Standard was launched in August 2020. What role did Anglo American have in its development?
McCulley: I am still Group Head of Projects for Anglo American, and the tailings group reports to me. Since 2014, we believe Anglo has been the global leader in tailings management. We are proud of our role in developing the new Global Tailings Standard, having spent a lot of time with the organizations involved to provide experience and input that went a long way to shape the Standard. Quellaveco will meet international standards from day one, and has had the benefit of having Anglo’s global tailings head, Caius Priscu, as part of our team to ensure what we design, build and operate is world-class.
GBR: What have been the main milestones achieved at Quellaveco in the last 12 months?
McCulley: Before the covid-19 outbreak, we were making great progress. We had started impounding water in the high mountain area, putting concrete on the primary crushing area, and progressing the steel and mechanical installation at the plant area. One of the biggest milestones was the earthworks, which was completed earlier in 2020. On the operational side, we had started initial pit works, as well as starting to run four of our 794 trucks.
More importantly, we had started our operating training program, with local women running the trucks. I interviewed these women in July, and it was moving to see how proud they were to be operating some of the biggest and most modern mining trucks in the world. Overall, this is a ground breaking program for us and shows the commitment we not only have to the local community, but more importantly, our diversity measures being put into action.
GBR: Can you explain what the implementation of FutureSmart Mining will mean to the operation?
McCulley: FutureSmart is a blend of technology and sustainability. If you go back to the vision and design of Quellaveco, it has really been focused on the long-term sustainability of the mine through effective use of things like water, energy and the environment. Quellaveco has been focused on technology such as automation, with digital and analytical tools all coming together. We will be looking at future technologies to bolt on as we go to ensure that we are optimizing the sustainable use of resources and remaining cost-effective.
GBR: In what ways has Anglo American helped local communities during this year of particular hardship?
McCulley: Our foundation has always been the dialogue table, and the people who put the project together back in 2011/12 were groundbreaking from a community relations and sustainability standpoint. We follow that road map today by making sure we meet commitments. In 2020, health and wellbeing of the workforce and local community has been the main priority, providing test kits, oxygen and hospital beds from an early stage. We have also provided food and water for the needy, not only from a company standpoint, but a personal standpoint, with our leadership team and some of our vendors giving back to the community. We also tried to look for areas where there was real need, and came up with a financing plan to help support local agriculture, which must develop in harmony with the mining industry.
GBR: Do you have a final message for the Peruvian mining community?
McCulley: Anglo American intends to ramp up construction at Quellaveco, maximize employment opportunities, continue to support local providers, and get into production as quickly as possible. We need to recognize that mining is extremely important to Peru, and as a country if we do not appreciate that, we are going to struggle to support the economy moving forward.
Government and industry need to work together to optimize mining so it is part of a long-term economic turnaround. The success of a project like Quellaveco goes a long way to making sure that other projects receive investment, get developed, and create local employment. We hope to be a catalyst for this development in Peru.
(This article first appeared in the Global Business Reports)