Chile launches national program to boost mining industry productivity

Chile launches national program to boost mining industry productivity

Chile’s mining industry first turned to renewables in 2010, when a 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant was commissioned to supply Codelco's massive Chuquicamata copper mine ( above).

Chile’s Economic Development Agency (CORFO) has launched a special program involving mining companies, suppliers, academics and the state to address the sector’s current productivity challenges, including power issues, lack of innovation and mounting costs.

In an interview with MINING.com, Claudio Maggi, manager of the Competitive Development Department division at CORFO, explained that one of the plan's main objectives is to develop a nation-wide strategy to expand the local industry’s technological capabilities.

Currently Chile imports almost 76% of the products required by its mining industry, while it only produces 17% of them, he said.

“By 2035, we want the local industry to be exporting $10 billion in mining solutions and knowledge-intensive services and technology,” Maggi said. Additionally, the program aims to form at least 250 world-class suppliers.

Next steps

From now until 2018 the groups involved in the national strategy will work on identifying existing gaps and defining concrete measures to achieve agreed targets.

Chile launches national program to boost mining industry productivity

Claudio Maggi, manager of the Competitive Development Department division at CORFO.

Among the first steps taken, Maggi mentioned a number of initiatives that seek to promote the use of renewable energy among miners, especially solar and geothermal power.

“The industry has vowed to have at least 20% of its power needs covered by renewable energies. It is called the 20/20 goal, meaning that by 2020 Chile’s most important sectors are supposed to have at least a fifth of their energy needs covered by renewables,” Maggi said.

The mining sector, however, has promised to get to that stage earlier, according to Maggi, and CORFO is working to help companies make it happen.

In terms of mineral production, the strategic program has set the goal of increasing Chile’s copper output to 130 to 150 million tonnes by 2035, significantly higher than the projected 6 million tonnes for this year, based on state copper commission's (Cochilco) latest estimate.

Surprisingly, that is not the most sought-after outcome. “By then, we want Chile to sell much more than just minerals; we want the country to become a top mining intelligence and solutions provider,” Maggi concluded.