Welcome to our Chile Mining 2021 publication, where we dive deep into the challenges, opportunities and competitiveness of the Chilean mining industry, as well as ongoing trends and debates on automation, digitalization, the future of lithium and potential for gold. Our Chile Mining report of 2020 highlighted the battle the country fought with the social unrest and how the industry was impacted. Chile was hopeful at the beginning of 2020 to start the year on a clean slate. However, the world witnessed the Covid-19 pandemic unravel, plunging global economies into recessions and triggering trillion-dollar stimulus plans. Fortunately, the Chilean mining industry has shown remarkable resilience and perseverance, as it withstood the external pressures well compared to other leading copper producers. This was facilitated by the industry’s early trial at remote work in October 2019 and the boom in commodity prices that pushed base and precious metals to record-highs that gave hope to the global mining sector. The pandemic has also significantly accelerated technology adoption across the entire supply chain as companies adopted remote working techniques. However, there were challenges as supply chains were disrupted due to lockdowns and social distancing measures. The pandemic aside, the industry in Chile is fighting some of the same battles we see every year with water scarcity, rising energy costs and decreasing total factor productivity. This year we are witnessing massive investments in R&D by equipment and service providers to address these challenges. In parallel to these events, the country is undergoing a pivotal process starting in April of 2021 that will dictate its future: rewriting the national constitution. Some investors and analysts remain wary of how this might impact mining investment. However, our research suggests that regulators are aware of the industry’s significance and its crucial role in the country’s economic growth and development. This report is the product of over 70 interviews with major mining companies, junior mining companies, service providers, equipment and technology suppliers and government officials, as we try to paint an accurate picture of the present state of the industry and attempt to foresee its future direction.
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Background image courtesy of Gold Fields