10 August 2020

The important role miners play in Chile’s key industry

Without their hard work, experience and dedication, the Chilean mining industry would not be possible. Miners have played a key role in helping transform Chile into a world power in metal and mineral extraction, especially copper. Today, this industry directly accounts for 10% of Chile’s gross domestic product.

Currently, the mining industry employs around 44,000 workers engaged in operations and site-based work and another 18,000 people in mining supply companies.  Although this is a field historically dominated by men, things are starting to change little by little. Woman are gaining ground.

Until 1996, women were legally barred from working in mining. Prejudices and misconceptions prevented women from working on-site.  Finally, however, this restriction was repealed in the Labor Code and things have been changing. Today, according to statistics from the Chilean Copper Commission, women make up 10% of the country’s mining workforce. This figure is still low, but it represents a huge step forward and continues to rise.

Safety is essential, especially following the accident that led to the successful rescue of 33 miners in 2010. “There is a before and an after in terms of prevention and oversight,” Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica told Spanish news agency EFE.  The data confirm that Chile has made progress in its ability to protect miners. Ten years ago, the fatality rate was 0.12 (45 deaths) and by 2019 this rate had dropped to 0.03 (14 deaths).  In other words, a decrease of 75%, according to the Chilean Mining Ministry.

Due to the hard work put in by miners as well as Chilean talent, creativity and ability to adapt, today mining plays a key role in our economy and the international copper supply. Chile is the world’s leading copper producer and holds one-third of global reserves. This explains why the mining sector receives some of the highest amounts of foreign investment in Chile.  According to statistics published by the Chilean Mining Council and the Central Bank of Chile, about 18% of all investments in 2018 were made in this field.

On Miners Day, congratulations to all of the men and women in Chile who are part of this industry! Their hard work and efforts are vital to our country.

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