Chile confident of turning around low copper productivity as global competition bites

Pre-stripping at Ministro Hales mine, in Chile’s northern Antofagasta region. (Image courtesy of Codelco via Flickr)

One of the world’s copper powerhouses says it is slowly starting to turnaround the inroads made against its market share by international competitors taking advantage of the country’s recent poor mining productivity.

Addressing the internationally focused Copper To The World Conference in Adelaide (South Australia) today, Minnovex AG Vice President, Mr Juan Rayo Calderon, said while copper was the commodity central to Chile’s national economy, it had been beset by a range of increasing challenges.

“Copper mining in Chile has become more and more difficult as ore bodies decline, the target rocks are increasingly harder, and water is getting far more expensive,” Mr Caldron said.

“Our biggest challenge however is that our mining productivity has now fallen well below that of our overseas competitors,” he said.

“We cannot remain in that position in the long-term.

“One of the main issues within that is human productivity, which faces rising demands of higher salaries, and increased community expectations around more environmentally sympathetic mining.”

Chile was also a relatively small country and as much of its additional copper output now included reworking tailings dams, there was not a lot of room to develop additional tailings dam capacity.

However, a “road map” to improve productivity implemented since 2016, was starting to achieve positive results, backed by both government and private sector R&D mining initiatives.

”The road map is expected to be updated this year and that will assist our current gains in seeking to lift productivity while meeting higher public expectations about the way we mine,” Mr Calderon said.

Copper mining currently represents 13% of Chile’s GDP and accounts for 60% of its annual exports – mainly to China and other Asian countries

(By Kevin Skinner)

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