Cesco Week Santiago 2019 or the industry in “adaptation” mode

Two weeks after Cesco Week Santiago 2019, we share a balance of the topics that marked the agenda of five intense days that brought together the leaders of the world copper industry in our city.

The market issues are usually the highlight of the week, but that was not the main course on this occasion. Beyond the inevitable different perceptions regarding the future, analysts agree on reasonable prices, between USD 2.8 and 3.2 cents per pound. In local terms, the most relevant was the frank conversation about the opportunities and difficulties presented by mining exploration in Chile. The Mining Vice Minister, Pablo Terrazas, presented the plan to promote mining exploration that basically seeks to facilitate access to mining property to junior companies, creating new business opportunities. This is precisely one of the main bottlenecks of the future of mining in Chile, due to the lack of new discoveries. In this sense, it was once again emphasized, the concentration of mining property and the need to update the geological map.

In more global terms, industry leaders expressed the unavoidable issues that mining is facing globally: disruptive technological development, interconnectivity and climate change. The main message was the need to adapt to this new context in which the generation of social value and acceptance by the community, becomes imperative. Wherever you look at the role of mining in the future, the transition to a low-carbon economy is undoubted, together with the responsible sourcing of markets, lowering emissions and consumption of energy and water. The application of new technologies and disruptive innovation are the priority areas in this new phase.

The way of doing mining seems to be at stake.

Less talked about, was how the industry cooperates with each other to make the sector succeed in this challenge. We went from the ostrich policy to the “I do it well” policy, without understanding that for citizens mining companies are a whole. It is also important to review the role of the State and public policy that may stimulate and push for an appropriate collaboration and a longer-term view. The adaptation of the industry implies a series of efforts, commitments and wills that go from the areas of public policies, the actions of the mining business sector, to the collective and individual behaviors that, until now, have not necessarily had a voice in the conversation.

And finally, there was a mention to the speed of the changes the sector is facing. These are happening fast and the transformation is difficult for a conservative, closed, high-inertia and large fixed assets industry. A breath of fresh air during the week was the challenge posed by a consortium of mining companies that from Chile, along with XPrize Foundation, the global platform for disruptive innovation, presented the Zero Waste Mining Challenge initiative, an open innovation contest to achieve mining without waste. Absurd, impossible? So it seems, but without these kind of ambitious challenges, there might not be significant progress. This requires the knowledge, scientific curiosity and resources available throughout the world to solve a crucial problem of global mining and Chile. In this context, we can highlight the effort led by Anglo American, Antofagasta Minerals and BHP that bring together mining companies, innovators, academia, research centers, governments, non-governmental organizations, self-taught pioneers and the general public to co-create the bases of this open innovation competition to achieve a technological breakthrough in the sector. XPrize is planning to launch the contest in the middle of next year with a prize pool of USD $ 20 million.

This is how, undoubtedly, Cesco Week Santiago 2019 was a faithful reflection of the turning point in which mining is worldwide: in the midst of a change in which the creation of value is extended ahead of traditional concerns, not only to increase its competitiveness but also to consolidate their legitimacy within society.