Amid the international debate about the exploitation of natural resources, a trend has been established for public policies to create productive framework for sustainable development and long term growth.
This is especially important in countries that depend upon industries that exploit natural resources, such as mining. This industry is faced with the challenge of constructing a shared vision between all the parties involved to ensure that mining will be truly competitive, to add value to extraction activities and also to make a contribution to the country’s economic progress.
This vision requires a virtuous mining industry in tune with other production activities. This means that it must distribute its benefits in an equitable manner, it must foster investment in knowledge that maximizes the generation of value with the resource extracted, it must mitigate the environmental impact and it must operate with full respect for the rights of local communities, doing so in a manner compatible with the preservation and strengthening of the environment where said activity takes place.
There are many different strategies for achieving this. Norway, for example, was a pioneer in the implementation of a national mining strategy that integrates every sector, while over the last fifteen years Australia has focused on implementing activities collateral to mining, achieving an output equal to 60% of its total mining output.
In this area, the role of the State is fundamental, as it must develop a policy that makes mining part of the overall chain of national production. Fulfilling its regulatory role, it is the State that must control the territorial organization of the mining activities and the external effects of the industry and also ensure that an effective and responsible dialogue is established with the communities affected directly or indirectly by the mining activity, as well as ensuring that every citizen receives the benefits of the exploitation of the resource.
In a few years’ time, clean mining: mining that minimizes its waste and environmental impact, will have a social value that will translate into economic value. For that reason, we must establish all the legal, institutional and even ethical conditions for its implementation. Given that mining performance is finite, and its carbon footprint is large, it is crucial that we create long term public policies that make it possible for countries that depend on mining to maintain their economic development when they can no longer produce minerals. This is why the royalties of today should be invested into tomorrow. This means investment into research, technology and innovation so that when the resources are exhausted there are still patents, innovative products and services linked to the industry. Only then will we be able to ensure that the benefits from mining will reach future generations as well.