James Otto: A life dedicated to mining taxation

James, or Jim, as his friends call him, has an academic and consulting experience of almost 40 years in the field of the mining industry where he has worked for multiple clients in more than 60 countries, including governments, the private sector, multilateral agencies and academic institutions. His area of expertise covers natural resources law, public policy and taxation of the mining sector, country risk analysis, sustainable development and poverty alleviation driven by the natural resources sector.

Otto’s background is highly unconventional. After studying engineering in the 1970s, he decided to pursue a doctorate in law in the early 1980s, specializing in natural resources law at the University of Denver. Simultaneously, and complementary to his doctorate in law, the expert pursued a master’s degree in mineral economics at the prestigious Colorado School of Mines. After graduating with both degrees, he began a successful career in consulting and academia, where he was professor and director of the Institute for Global Resources Policy and Management at the Colorado School of Mines, as well as director of graduate studies in natural resources law at the University of Denver.

The lawyer has written around 100 academic publications, including books, book chapters and articles, all of them focused on different legal and economic aspects of the taxation of mineral resources. Although his work is extensive, Otto is undoubtedly best known for his book “Mining Royalties: a global study of their impact on investors, government and society”, which is considered a classic on this subject, despite having been published only in 2006. This book is a must for anyone seeking to fully understand the theory and practice of mining royalties. This book has been translated from the original, in English, into Chinese and also Spanish (in the latter case by Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile).

He is undoubtedly the world’s leading exponent of mining taxation, with an encyclopedic knowledge not only in the different topics associated with mining, but also with an experience that covers all mining jurisdictions in the world. Otto also knows very well the reality of mining taxation in Chile, as this country has been an example and case study in several of his publications.

At a time when Chile is questioning the basic principles of its Constitution, which undoubtedly may have implications for mining taxation and the contribution that, through this, the sector will continue to make in the country, having this expert as a guide and consultation is a luxury from which no one interested in this subject can abstain.

We can only extend CESCO’s invitation to attend the virtual seminar “Institutionalization of Chilean mining in the international context” to be held on April 15 at 10:00 a.m., where we will be able to talk with Jim about his vision and receive his wise advice for the political challenge that Chile faces today.