The last few months have been more optimistic for global mining, not only because of the rise in the price of copper but also, and in the medium term, because of the prominence of this metal in what has been called the new economy, the low carbon economy or “electric green”. In this economy the main characters are, along with copper, lithium, nickel and cobalt. And of course, the sun.
This promising future, with an economy that will contribute to reversing climate change, will require the mining industry to leave behind the way it has been producing and innovate in how it will participate in that future, rethinking the way to obtain and process minerals, decreasing their solid and liquid waste, the use of water and its impacts in general.
Chile can lead the disruptive changes required by the industry not only because it is the main copper producer in the world and, therefore, a laboratory to test new technologies, business models of lower cost, complexity and simplicity. Also, in terms of human capital, in the management and practices of the business, in labor relations, the community and citizenship in general. At the same time, the country is playing a global leadership role as far as solar energy is concerned.
How do we recover the investment and encourage exploration? What will happen to Chile in the next two decades? Are we developing a long-term strategy as a country, privileging our copper and lithium reserves, as we are doing with solar radiation- all essential elements for the development of a cleaner, more sustainable and electric future?
In the government programs of the presidential candidates there is a certain consensus on the priorities. The challenge is to reach a big agreement in the spotlights and to join the wills to prolong the current initiatives beyond the electoral swings and the political will of the elected government. That is what these times of vertiginous changes demand.
We must bring the future to the present of mining. We cannot let this new technological revolution happen before our eyes without taking advantage of our competitive assets. The maturity and experience of our mining industry is a gateway to the so-mentioned knowledge economy, which is not opposed to the exploitation of natural resources, but only requires greater diversification and sophistication.