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Desert air.

Across Chile, a wireless technology known as Wi-Fi has made its way into many industries. Now it's coming to one of the oldest of the old economies: copper mining, the drifting force behind Chile's exports.

Chile's copper miner Codelco has spent US$300,000 since 2001 installing wireless networks at its operations in northern and central Chile. The state-owned company even extended a project so that 2,000 employees can get wireless Internet in their homes.

South of Santiago, Codelco's El Teniente mine replaced fiber-optic cable with wireless, says Francisco Amiama, Codelco's deputy manager of information technology. "The wireless access to the Web is used in all divisions and in various productive processes, such as extraction and loading, control of underground mines, moving equipment, railroad signals and others" says Amiama.

Escondida, Chile's largest privately controlled mine, has spent $1 million on Wi-Fi in the last three years. "Originally, wireless networks were only used in conference rooms, nevertheless, in the last year and a half it expanded to productive processes within the mines and the concentrate plants as well," says Marcelo Silva, tech chief at the mine.

Chile's second largest privately-owned mine, Dona Ines de Collahuasi, has spent $240,000 on wireless networks at a mine-owned hotel where workers stay during a shift; in extraction systems; and on board loading trucks, says Arnolgo Clunes, computer manager for the hotel.

Candelaria, a smaller Phelps-Dodge mine in the region, has made a $50,000 investment in wireless. "We use the technology to move voice and data to remote points that are not accessible by cable or fiber," says Ovidio Alvarez, head of technology. Since 2001, the Quebrada Blanca copper mine has worked with Wi-Fi over 4 kilometers of operations. "With fiber optics, for example, we would have had to modify the layout of the mine," says tech boss Franco Francino.
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Title Annotation:Connection; Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile; Dona Ines de Collahuasi; Candelaria
Comment:Desert air.(Connection)(Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile)(Dona Ines de Collahuasi)(Candelaria)
Author:Duhalde, Felix Nunex
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:3CHIL
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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