Chile mining know-how a potential pot of gold
By Greta Bourke – Thursday, May 15, 2014
The know-how in the Chilean mining sector has the potential to be commercially exploited on a global level, according to Alan Broome, chairman emeritus of Australian industry association Austmine.
“I know of a large number of technologies developed in Chile that are very exciting and frankly are very commercially viable for exploitation on a global basis,” Broome told BNamericas. “What we need is the framework to develop the industry.”
Chile’s state copper producer Codelco alone has a US$23bn project portfolio which includes many underground initiatives that will require new technologies and ideas to develop, according to Broome, who is also non-executive chairman of the Rio Tinto-Codeclo JV, Río de Cobre.
Río de Cobre is a working partnership between the two miners, but there are areas that could end up in a commercial outcome if a new technology is forthcoming, according to Broome.
In Australia, the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector is an Aus$90bn/year (US$84.1bn/year) industry, with exports of Aus$15bn/year. “To put that in perspective, Aus$90bn is about 4% of Australia’s GDP,” Broome said.
“But that didn’t happen on its own. It was the result of a strategic plan funded by the Australian government to develop the industry,” he added.
Broome chaired the group that put together the strategic plan for Australia’s METS sector and also formed part of the group that drew up a framework to encourage the development of the mining services cluster in Chile during current President Michelle Bachelet’s first term in office (2006 to 2010).
The cluster did not prosper under the administration of former president Sebastián Piñera – in office from 2010 to 2014 – due to “a change of priorities,” according to Broome.
After taking office in March, mining minister Aurora Williams said that she aimed to revisit the idea of a mining services cluster and Broome has since been approached by sector players for his advice.
“Chile has a significant opportunity to do the same as Australia did,” Broome said.
Chile has a US$113bn mining project portfolio to 2021, according to state copper commission Cochilco. As of March 2014, projects valued at US$19.6bn were under construction.