Chile mulls revision to mining code

Despite being praised as being among the world’s best mining codes due to the absence of regulatory discretion and licences effectively being granted by administrative judges, Chile’s current rules for the sector represents a huge barrier to explorers, the country’s Minister of Mines said Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 17th World’s Copper Conference being held this week in Santiago, Chile, minister Baldo Prokurica told MINING.com that President Sebastián Piñera’s government program includes developing specific instruments to attract and protect mining investments.

Chile is in the process of setting a Presidential Advisory Commission, which will come up with a new national mining policy for the 2018-2050 period, covering taxes, environmental and social aspects.

Among the anticipated incentives, he said authorities are studying potential revisions to the mining code in order to make companies that already own concessions to work on them or else give them up.

Prokurica said his office had already kicked off some changes, such us approaching big miners so they let juniors explore in part of their concessions they don’t considered significant to their current businesses.

The idea is to make that voluntary practice a legal obligation that helps mid-size miners and juniors to come back to Chile’s mining sector.

The ministry is also in the process of setting a Presidential Advisory Commission, which will come up with a new national mining policy for the 2018-2050 period, covering taxes, environmental and social aspects.

Public and private sector representatives, mining associations and companies of all sizes, will make up that group, Prokurica said.

Chile’s government will also create a task force focused not only on promoting mining investment in the country, but also helping those companies navigate the rather complex process of getting a mining licence.

Risking the top place

Chile faces key challenges to continue being the world's leading copper producer, the minister acknowledged, especially as world’s second largest copper nation, Peru, is working hard on surpassing its neighbour in less than ten years.

Prokurica said his office would focus on helping local miners improve their productivity with the support of new technologies, mainly automation and digitalization.

He noted it’s also important to develop more sustainable mining practices that allow and encourage the participation of all stakeholders. That, he said, would solve potential conflicts between companies and communities early enough in the game.

“A country like ours needs the private world to be fully in tune with the needs of locals in order to renew public trust in mining and boost the activity,” he said.