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Algamar: Finding competition and friendship in Japan

Nov 21, 2016
Credit : GMI Post

Founded in 1960, Algas Marinas SA (Algamar) was a pioneer in supplying Gracilaria seaweed to Japan, where the ingredient is known as ogonori and goes into making kanten or agar.

Algamar CEO Miguel Depolo

After developing an efficient production process in the mid-1960s, Algamar was able to compete with traditional agar producers in Japan and sell it around the world. And some two decades later, the company became one of the world’s largest producers of agar.

“We owe Hiroshi Tsukakoshi, the founder and current chairman of Ina Food in Nagano Prefecture, a significant part of our success. At the start of our relationship back in the early 1970s, there was fierce competition for seaweed as a raw material. Tsukakoshi was most generous with his wise advice and constant support,” said CEO Miguel Depolo.

Today, Algamar accounts for around 50 percent of Japan’s agar imports, which

are used in making traditional delicacies such as tokoroten, mitsumame and yokan, to name a few. Algamar allowed Ina Food, as exclusive distributor of Chilean agar in Japan, to take a 10 percent stake in the company.

“That is why when you ask me about our company’s relationship and experience with Japan, I need to start always by saying that it is a story of competition, cooperation and friendship,” Depolo said.

Sierra Gorda resists global downturn

Nov 21, 2016
Credit : GMI Post

Sierra Gorda SCM, a joint venture between Sumitomo Metal Mining, Sumitomo Corp. and Poland-based KGHM, began operations in 2014 and currently produces an average of 500,000 pounds of payable copper a day destined both for the Japanese and the world’s other markets.

Sierra Gorda General Manager Robert Wunder

Located in the northern Antofagasta region, the mine also produces molybdenum and gold for the global market. In spite of the many challenges related to the extended slump in the global mining industry, the company is working hard to surmount the obstacles and looks with hope and optimism to the future.

“Growth has been pretty rapid. We’ve completed our phase one construction and we’ve been in the process of upgrading and applying the kaizen process in our operations,” said General Manager Robert Wunder, an industry veteran with more than 40 years of experience.

“Sumitomo have been very good partners and have contributed their valuable knowledge and development expertise to the project. They have a number of people here on site who work side by side with their Chilean colleagues and understand the Chilean culture very well,” Wunder added.

Whether it is copper, molybdenum or gold, Sierra Gorda understands that demand for metals goes through different cycles and adjusts its cost efficiency efforts accordingly.

“We believe that getting the Sierra Gorda operation in optimum condition will place us in excellent position to move forward and make good returns for the owners,” Wunder said.

Tenova-Takraf seeks new ground for mining innovation

Nov 21, 2016
Credit : GMI Post

Chile’s Chuquicamata mine, located in the mineral-rich Antofagasta region, supplies much of the copper that goes to smelters all over the world. More than 110 years old and one-km deep, the mine is also one of the country’s oldest and largest.

Tenova-TAKRAF, an Italian-Argentinian company, has built a reputation for developing technology that has modernized the mining industry. In 2018, it is set to unveil the world’s largest conveyor belt for the mine. Measuring 13 kilometers in length, the conveyor belt will be able to transport more than 11,000 tons of ore per hour.

Tenova-Takraf CEO Christian Cavagnaro

“With the new system, we will install conveyors from the bottom of the mine and move the ore to the surface. This means greater productivity for our clients, a safer workplace for the workers and less environmental impact,” explained CEO Christian Cavagnaro.

Currently, around 120 earth-moving trucks traverse Chuquicamata’s open pit mine to transport ore and the task grows more difficult as the mine gets deeper.

Being a highly cyclical industry, the mining sector needs long-term investments that can withstand market shocks. Tenova-TAKRAF minimizes those risks and uncertainties through its research and innovative products.

“We are developing a large R&D group to develop new technologies and new equipment. We are responding to clients’ demand for the lowest operating cost. Our value is to constantly develop technology for our clients’ maximum benefit,” Cavagnaro said.

As Japan is among the largest investors in Chile’s mining sector, Tenova-TAKRAF is seeking partnership with Japanese companies on how to further improve the industry through innovation and technology.

“We welcome them as technology partners in developing the mining industry and in contributing to society,” Cavagnaro added.

Chile 2016 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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