September 3, 2021

Government presents National Mining Policy 2050, which aims to generate a more sustainable development model for Chilean mining

Government presents National Mining Policy 2050, which aims to generate a more sustainable development model for Chilean mining
The document presented by Mining and Energy Biminister Juan Carlos Jobet contains 78 short, medium and long-term goals that increase demands on both the mining sector and the State. More than 3,500 industry representatives, NGOs, unions, indigenous peoples and academics participated in its two-year preparation.

Mining and Energy Biminister Juan Carlos Jobet has presented the National Mining Policy (PNM 2050) at an event in Calama. The objectives of the policy focus on the need to agree on a new mining development model for the next 30 years, which guarantees a competitive, sustainable industry with the highest international standards, places value on areas throughout the country and is a source of national pride.

Over a two-year period, more than 3,500 people belonging to unions, companies, academia, indigenous peoples and civil society members involved in mining participated in workshops, commissions, meetings and working groups. The result is a document drawn up with broad civic participation.

Many of these people participated both in person and online in a discussion at the National Copper Corporation’s (CODELCO) Minister Hales Division, where the policy’s main objectives and goals were addressed by Biminister Jobet, alongside Mining Undersecretary Edgar Blanco, National Mining Policy Coordinator María Cristina Guell, regional authorities and industry representatives.

Mr. Jobet thanked all those who participated in the preparation of the PNM 2050. He stated that the contribution of mining to Chile throughout the country’s history cannot be denied; however, the demands of today’s society and the challenges presented by the 21st century make it necessary to raise the standards by which the industry has developed to now.

In this regard, Mr. Jobet affirmed that global warming is the greatest challenge facing the planet and our country can play a key role in confronting it. This is because minerals such as copper and lithium – of which Chile has the largest reserves in the world – are essential in developing renewable energies and electromobility, which will allow us to progressively reduce the carbon footprint.

“Today is a historic day. For the first time, Chile has a long-term National Mining Policy; a State policy that has been built through dialogue with more than 3,500 people throughout the country and which outlines a vision of the future of mining that we all dream of. A type of mining that provides the minerals that the world will need to stop climate change, that creates employment, investment and progress throughout the country, that is better integrated with local communities, that cares for the environment and that includes more women. It can thus be an example of sustainable development for our country,” Mr. Jobet explained.

Joaquín Villarino, CEO of the Mining Council, stated, “this is a very important moment for Chile and for the mining sector. For the sector, because it is important to have a long-term roadmap that defines how to push ahead with development while maintaining sustainability as a fundamental principle. This means that it must further contribute to economic and social development and that it must take better care of the environment. Three tremendous challenges embodied in concrete goals that demand specific commitments not only from the industry, but also from other actors in the country that will make it possible for this roadmap to become a reality.”

Mining Undersecretary Edgar Blanco continued, “it is no coincidence that we are here. More than half of Chile’s copper is extracted from the Antofagasta Region and I can assure you that the document being presented to the public today reflects what small, medium and largescale mining needs, in a positive way and with a regional focus.” He added, “mining is not possible without providing a better quality of life for everyone living throughout Chile (…) we cannot think about the future of mining without including women’s opinions about the different challenges we are working on. Mining represents all of us, the smallest producer, women and the families behind each miner.”

Main aspects of the PNM

The National Mining Policy 2050 is a navigation chart for the industry and the State, with a shared and transversal vision based on the pillars of economic, social and environmental sustainability and good governance.

It is a strategic guiding document that defines a total of 78 short, medium and long-term goals for the mining industry and the State. It will include a monitoring plan led by the Mining Ministry and the Chilean Copper Commission (COCHILCO) to verify compliance of these goals, as well as a participatory update every five years to incorporate the new realities that occur.

The development model proposed by the PNM 2050 is based on four pillars:

  • Economic pillar: to be world leaders in responsible, sustainable, competitive and innovative production, with world-class standards.
  • Environmental pillar: to be at the forefront of resource and environmental management, addressing impacts and generating net gain in biodiversity.
  • Social pillar: to improve mining workers’ quality of life, promoting harmonious development throughout Chile and adding value to local communities and the country.
  • Institutional pillar: the State creates the conditions for the industry’s sustainable development via solid institutions, generating a favorable environment and providing guarantees to attract investment.

Among the most important goals for each of the pillars are the following:

Economic pillar

  • Maintaining 28% of world copper production, corresponding to 9 million tons by 2050.
  • Assuring that 70% of production falls within the first two cost quartiles and doubling investment in exploration by 2030.
  • Increasing the contribution that mining-related goods and services make to GDP by 20% by 2050.
  • Increasing productivity (TFP) by 50% by 2050.
  • Double annual investment in greenfield exploration compared to the average over the last five years by 2030.
  • Generating a diversification strategy for the mineral base and thus increasing the development of non-copper products by 2025.

Environmental pillar

  • Contributing to the fight against climate change, achieving carbon neutrality by 2040.
  • Not exceeding 10% continental water of total water used by the industry by 2030 and 5% by 2050.
  • Protecting glaciers.
  • Eradicating abandoned tailings or those critical for the population by 2050.
  • Generating net positive impact on biodiversity by 2050.
  • Promoting the circular economy through secondary mining and construction processes.

Social pillar

  • Generating value in the areas where it is present, reducing multidimensional poverty and increasing social well-being by 2030.
  • Achieving gender parity in management positions and 35% in the general industry by 2050.
  • Maintaining the position as best industry in terms of safety, aiming for zero fatalities.
  • Incorporating the development of an indigenous chapter through a participative process in accordance with the ILO Convention 169.  
  • Implementing early participation by seeking binding agreements with communities.
  • Implementing indicators of workers’ occupational health by 2025.

Institutional pillar

  • Having a segmented and effective development policy for artisanal, small and medium-scale mining.
  • Maximizing social benefit through fair, competitive tax collection that adequately contributes to the communities where they are located.
  • Implementing a mining concession system that guarantees ownership of the concession and encourages mining activity.
  • Generating a comprehensive mining education plan by 2022.
  • Halving processing times for environmental and sectoral permits by 2050.
  • Coordinating a vision for infrastructure and technology necessary for long-term industry development.

The PNM 2050 document has been voluntarily submitted for strategic environmental assessment (SEA). It will also include an indigenous chapter, which will soon be drafted. The methodology was co-designed in conjunction with National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI) advisors at the start of the year. The document is now available for Environment Ministry observation, after which the public consultation process will begin. “We believe that this last step is vital so that everyone’s voice can be included, thus ensuring that the policy reflects the diverse views of different sectors and a sense of ownership is shared by all,” Biminister Jobet explained.

Once these next stages are completed, the National Mining Policy 2050 will be signed by decree and both the Executive and Congress will be able to process the regulations and laws that will allow the objectives to be carried out.