Mining resources, technology, environment and inclusion

Mining resources, technology, environment and inclusion

A low carbon future requires a substantial increase in the production of minerals and metals. To ensure compliance with sustainable development objectives in Latin America and the Caribbean, this increased production must be the engine of a productive transformation that generates quality employment, greater technological capabilities and the implementation of better and more effective practices to protect the environment. and communities.

In this sense, the countries that make an effort to identify and take advantage of the opportunities that this context implies will be able to capture to a greater extent the shared value that can be generated around mining, implementing the necessary adjustments to make it possible. In effect, we are facing a new window of opportunity that will close sooner rather than later and that urgently requires collective action to lead the transition towards mining that, in addition to being competitive and safe, is intelligent, inclusive and sustainable.

Faced with this window of opportunity, the IDB works under Vision 2025, its roadmap for a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, in five priority areas, one of them being the fight against climate change. Under this guide, it is important to promote the necessary investments to supply the region with essential materials to be able to decarbonize the global economy, generate benefits and improve lives. At the same time, it is important to promote optimal institutional conditions so that mining promotes the development of chains inserted both in the territories where the mining activity takes place and in global value chains.

Mining resources, technology, environment and inclusion

Source: based on Jorge Katz (Charlotte Perez presentation)

On April 26, the IDB held the first event of its Sustainable Mining: Opportunities and Challenges for a Prosperous Latin America and Caribbean series with a keynote address by researcher Carlota Perez, honorary professor at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose ( IIPP) at University College London and at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. Professor Pérez studies the mutual configuration of technical change and society and the lessons that the history of technological revolutions provides for economic growth and development. Her conference can be found in its entirety at this link.

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After the presentation, the audience posed questions to the teacher and we highlight here some of her answers. Regarding the work with governments to create national and local development plans, Professor Perez recommended “starting by reaching consensus on its need (based on institutions designed for it) and then having very high-level personnel capable of presenting alternatives for development at every level.

Discussing the responsibility of mining companies with local and indigenous communities, Carlota Perez said that “this is one of the crucial points of the idea of ​​turning each mining project into a development project” arguing that “all the interests at stake and recognize that the exploitation of the resource must benefit the companies, the community and the country.” Therefore, says Perez, “it is important to keep in mind that transactional relationships between companies, communities and the state should be avoided, which lead to passive rentier behaviors and poor development of local capacities, essential for sustainable development. Mining companies will have to demonstrate to the national community that they can contribute to development in all its dimensions.”

In addition, he adds that “one of the advantages of information technologies is that, unlike the homogenizing force of the mass production revolution, they are capable of ‘customizing’ their products and services.” In that sense then, “since each culture is different, each local solution will also be. You have to be willing to provide the necessary help and financing to increase their well-being, since you are taking advantage of what has been in their vital and natural space. It is not easy, but it becomes even more difficult if there is a previous history of misunderstanding and confrontation. Earning their trust (and earning it) is the beginning of the solution.”

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Finally, regarding the role of the region’s governments in promoting sustainable mining projects, Professor Perez affirms that “it will be the demand that will require ‘green’ minerals and this will manifest itself in greater demands and in a price increase accepted as a response to the required investment. But it must be taken into account that one of the goals of the consuming countries will also be the reduction of material consumption per unit of product, the use of recycled materials and alternative bio-materials. That is why they will be interested in raising relative prices to induce innovation in that direction.”

Today, Latin America and the Caribbean is in time to take advantage of its natural capital and develop sustainable solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The ideas reflected in the conference reaffirm that, if the institutional conditions and corporate practices are adequate, the mining activity can be a motor for the development of products and services of high added value and complexity. By embracing automation, robotics, and digitization, mining can drive the transition to electromobility, the circular economy, and further development of renewable energy.

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