SANTIAGO – Chile must create for itself a “post-copper” economy geared to the export of goods and services by diversifying its mining sector, President Michelle Bachelet said Monday.
“We’re pushing a post-copper economy, which doesn’t mean that we’re abandoning copper, but rather that we’re pushing for more diversified and innovative productive development,” said the president during the inauguration of the 14th edition of Expomin, one of the world’s most important mining fairs.
The event has attracted more than 1,300 firms and providers from 37 countries and hopes are that more than 80,000 executives, professionals and investors in the sector will attend.
The aim of the fair is to provide a space to establish contacts, strike new business deals and discuss the main challenges facing the mining sector in Chile and throughout the world.
The latter point, Bachelet said, is “key” given the enormous challenges posed by the end of the commodities boom for a country like Chile, the world’s top copper producer, where mining represents about 10 percent of the GDP and a like percentage of the country’s jobs.
The red metal’s price stood at around $4 per pound in 2011 but fell to $2.50 per pound, on average, in 2015.
“Without a doubt, the challenges for the industry are enormous – there’s not the slightest doubt – and they demand a great effort toward dialogue ... among different actors,” the president added, saying that to achieve a productive transformation “the commitment of everyone” is needed.
Chile has copper reserves of 209 million tons, representing 30 percent of the global total.
It is also the country with the greatest nitrate, iodine and lithium carbonate reserves.