The future of mining in Chile

This study presents a snapshot of the current state of the industry, its opportunities and challenges in the context of the global mega-trends that will affect it over the next 20 years, as well as concrete, evidence-based future scenarios, both positive and negative, to promote a constructive national dialogue about the future.

In partnership with CSIRO Futures, CSIRO Chile developed this report on the role that innovation in the mining sector could play in Chile’s economic growth, human capital development, and solving Chile’s major technical challenges in energy and water. In particular, the report highlights five scenarios for the future of the Chilean mining industry. The project involved engagement with a wide range of senior stakeholders in Chilean industry and government.

Industry at crossroads

Chile’s mining industry is at a crossroads. Mining has led the country towards greater levels of wealth and prosperity and is a large part of the reason why Chile is well on its way to being considered as an advanced economy. Chile is, by far, the world’s dominant producer of copper ore but this position should not be taken for granted. Rising costs, declining productivity and rising social and regulatory pressure in the areas of community engagement and environmental sustainability are hampering the sector’s profitability and ability to remain globally competitive.

The industry can choose to continue on its current path and address these challenges through short-term solutions that provide incremental improvements. Alternatively, it can identify the opportunities for step change innovation within the changing global landscape in order to forge a new upward trajectory for economic growth for both the industry and the nation.

The CSIRO Future of Mining in Chile Report

Platform for change

In this way, mining has the potential to act as a platform for change in Chile. Through advances in scientific research and development and technological innovation it can address the challenges that not only hinder the productivity of the industry but of the country, such as rising energy costs. It can drive the growth of a new mining services sector that helps to diversify the economy. It can take a leadership position on issues such as environmental and social sustainability. Changes such as these will be vital for ensuring that Chile remains a key player within the global mining value chain over the coming decades.

However, this sort of progress will not be possible without successful collaboration across industry, government and the research community. There is a need for these different stakeholders to unite behind a shared vision for the future of mining in Chile and work together to move towards this ideal.

The report

This report aims to provide a starting point for the development of this shared vision. It can help to create a common language across stakeholder groups as well as provide a common understanding of where the mining industry currently stands, the changing global landscape in which it operates, and the potential directions it could take. This is done through an assessment of the current state of the industry, an overview of the major global megatrends that will impact the industry over the next twenty years, and a forward- looking scenario analysis.

It is not the intention of this report to provide concrete recommendations but rather to help create a national conversation about the way forward.

Mining has given a lot to Chile. A shared vision, an appetite for innovation and strong leadership will ensure that mining continues to drive economic growth for the country well into the future.


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