"The country’s investment portfolio stands at US$60 billion, which is remarkable. The challenge is to execute these investments."
What are Consejo Minero’s strategic objectives and priorities for 2022?
Consejo Minero is an industry association covering the country’s major mining companies, be it Chilean or foreign, state-owned or private. We represent over 90% of the country’s mining production. Our focus in 2022 is on public policy discussions on two fronts: Constitutional reform, which includes a chapter on mining, and a very important discussion about mining royalties. In parallel to that, we are part of the ‘Compromiso Minero’ initiative, that reunites over 100 institutions related to the mining industry. This includes big and small companies, mining providers, regional industry associations, and academic institutions.
How does Consejo Minero collaborate with the new government?
First, at Consejo Minero we gather and deliver a lot of valuable information to the authorities about the performance of mining companies. This government has shown interest in protecting small miners, and within that we can help a lot in terms of safety standards. Also, the previous government approved the ‘Minería 2050’ initiative, which needs to be implemented this year, and includes over 400 measures from emissions reduction to water usage and energy efficiency.
Regarding the new developments, we must see the final content of the new Constitution in other issues that can influence the industry, such as water resources, which will be subject to laws, so we will have to collaborate and work with the public sector and Congress.
What is Consejo Minero’s view on the consequences that Chilean mining could face due to constitutional changes?
Up to now (27th May, 2022), what has been approved does not go against the development of mining activity. Recognizing that the mineral resources belong to the State is already part of the current constitution. Other measures approved related to sustainability and environmental protection are also items that we consider to be reasonable. What is pending for approval is the titles under which the private segment can undertake mining projects. So far, several proposals have been bad, including general bans to mining activities in certain territories; nationalization of certain mining activities; and a confiscatory royalty of 25% of sales. Fortunately, all these proposals were rejected by the Constitutional Convention, so we are awaiting to see how other matters related to the industry are resolved, such as the use of water, community relations and rights.
What can the industry do to overcome a skills shortage?
For more than a decade we have been working on connecting the industry with education bodies, via the ‘Consejo de Competencias Mineras’ (CCM) initiative in alliance with Fundación Chile’s ‘Eleva’ program. In general, most technical schools have very little knowledge about the profiles and skills that the industry needs, so we have been working with the Ministry of Education and Universities to address this gap.
How is Chile’s mining sector working to strengthen regional employment and create wealth that stays in-country?
It is important to note that of all monetary flows in this industry, 90% stays in Chile via investment, taxes, royalties and salaries. For many years we have promoted that this wealth should stay in the mining regions. It is something we cannot control, but we believe there is a historic debt with the mining regions and the new Constitution is a good opportunity to address that.
Can you elaborate on the ‘Compromiso Minero’ initiative?
The Compromiso Minero initiative that was launched last year and looks at promoting industry visibility, sustainable development, the incorporation of more women to the industry, and innovation. We are working together to create a mining ecosystem, with partner institutions to promote these goals, because without copper and lithium, there is no electromobility, and without that, we can´t fight climate change.
What is Consejo Minero's outlook regarding Chile’s mining industry?
Chile has an enormous opportunity to be a very relevant player in the fight against climate change via the supply of minerals such as copper, lithium and cobalt. The country’s investment portfolio stands at US$60 billion, which is remarkable. The challenge is to execute these investments. To achieve this, it is essential to have regulatory stability. We also need to meet environmental challenges. A key challenge surrounds water consumption. Right now, Chile’s mining sector only uses 3.5% of the country’s water and we recycle 76% of that. However, we intend to improve this, and have a commitment to source 50% of our needs from seawater by 2030.