Post pandemic opportunities

The results of the Chilean monthly indicator of economic activity (Imacec)(‘s for April show that mining has withstood the downpour thus far, amid the unprecedented collapse of our economy. The mining Imacec decreased only 0.1% while the non-mining did so by 15.5%.

“Mining does not fail Chile” is a phrase that has been coined by representatives of the sector to illustrate that this activity has not stopped and has faced the current emergency with relative success. And mining will not fail the country when it has to face the recovery of our economy and growth to counteract the complex social crisis that, for several reasons, we have dragged on since last year.

However, we look with concern at the fact that, beyond the effects of the current pandemic in the sector, we have been observing since before it, certain worrying signs that account for a loss of dynamism in our main economic activity. No one questions the role of the mining as the main vehicle of growth and progress for our country. This industry was key to lifting Chile out of poverty and reducing it to less than 10%. Multiple diagnoses account for it: Mining, Future Platform for Chile; Productivity, the challenge of national mining; Roadmap of Chilean Mining 2015-2030, and now the Roadmap 2.0 of the Alta Ley Corporation. These documents that bring together the cross-sectional vision of the sector, have also lit the lights around the challenges for mining and proposed strategies to overcome them.

It is not guaranteed that Chile can advance towards being a country that, supported by its mining, builds a sustainable and sustained productive base. It is not only a matter of continuing to increase production but also of improving its productivity, its technological capabilities and the traction of innovation so that bridges between mining and other sectors of our economy and society are effectively created.

In the recent study published by Cesco, “Towards 4.0 Mining: Recommendations to Promote a Smart National Industry”, and which we present in this edition of our newsletter, the barriers we face to smooth the described path are analyzed, and we will not tire of insisting that this is a path of public-private cooperation and collaboration that the state must lead.

Everything indicates that the use of essential minerals for a sustainable future, such as copper and lithium, will intensify and Chile has great opportunities in this area: green mining, solar metallurgy, circular economy, renewable fuels such as hydrogen, renewable energy for industrial use, among others. These are doors to be open but this  depend on the country and the cooperation between the actors in the sector. Today more than ever we need to take advantage of them, when the results of the laissez-faire orthodoxy and industrial development immobility have revealed their weakness in the face of the pandemic. It is necessary to make a change of direction as we are at a turning point that gives us a new and perhaps last chance to make up for the lost time.