CHILE TRANSPARENTE’S RESEARCH ON CORRUPTION IN MINING

CHILE TRANSPARENTE’S RESEARCH ON CORRUPTION IN MINING EVALUATES THE GRANTING OF MINING CONCESSIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL APPROVAL OF MINING PROJECTS

On May 9th, the academic and Cesco boardmember, José Joaquín Jara, participated in the launch of an investigation from Chile Transparente entitled “Mitigation of corruption risks in mining concessions and granting of environmental permits in Chile”. It is a study of corruption in mining carried out by Transparency International and its local chapters, which deals with the main corruption risks existing in different mining districts worldwide.

José Joaquín Jara, who was part of one of the seminar panels, commented that “the main risks evaluated so far have been the transfer of money from mining companies to government authorities (not evaluated in Chile because it has a low probability of occurrence) and the risk of corruption in obtaining mining rights and operating permits (environmental, sectorial and approval permits from local communities). In the case of Chile, two processes with corruption risks were evaluated: the granting of mining concessions and the environmental approval of mining projects”.

He added that “an interesting topic of the study in general and in Chile is that Transparency International broadens the concept of corruption beyond what is legally regulated, stating that corruption can also be considered as legal practices that undermine the ethically and socially acceptable. In the Chilean case, the risk of “traditional” corruption in issues of granting mining rights is low, given the structuring and improvements of the last few years in the process (especially the online processing of mining concession applications). However, it was noted that there are risks of expanded corruption in legal practices going against the spirit and objectives of the law (overlapping of mining rights, consecutive request for exploration concessions, among others).

The academic said that “in terms of the process for the environmental approval for mining projects, higher risks are seen even when they remain low. Particularly, there are spaces of pressure from the part of political authorities to those in charge of approving or rejecting the initiatives. There is also a risk in the transactional and dependency relationships between the local authorities and the communities with the mining companies”.

Among the topics discussed in the occasion, the most relevant one was the challenges that the mining industry and the Chilean society must face in the approval processes of the mining projects. Visions were contrasted on the performance of the mining industry in this respect, and how the industry’s way of dealing with this problem has been changing. Finally, it was concluded that this process is still under development, at an initial stage, but that future prospects are positive.