Santiago, Oct 25 (EFE).- The Expomin fair, one of the main mining gatherings in Latin America, kicked off on Monday in Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, at a time when the industry is facing new challenges on environmental issues and just when the price of the “red metal” has been seesawing.
More ecological ore handling equipment, remote controls to operate the machinery from a distance and innovative strategies to eliminate mining residues in a sustainable way are just some of the concepts being featured at the fair, which will run for five days in Santiago and is expected to welcome 50,000 invited guests.
“This is the world’s second most important mining fair and takes account of the sophistication of an industry that, to continue being more competitive and sustainable, has to be more efficient and innovative,” said Chilean Mining Minister Juan Carlos Jobet.
Participating in the event will be companies from more than 30 countries, investors, providers, mining authorities and key institutions, and the fair will be a forum for striking business deals valued at some $1 billion, Expomin executive director Francisco Sotomayor said.
“The big challenges will be dealt with, along with the future development of mining 4.0, the new technologies for sustainable and green mining,” Sotomayor said.
Other issues that will be discussed include the value of including and diversifying human capital and the role of women in mining, in which the participation of the Woman in Mining Chile organization will be featured.
On Tuesday, there will be a panel discussion among the four most prominent candidates in the Nov. 21 Chilean presidential elections with the aim of opening debate on the economic and environmental impact of mining on the country and on its future development.
In Chile, mining represents 10 percent of the GDP and big companies like BHP, Anglo American, Codelco and Antofagasta minerals – along with a host of small and medium firms – are integral to the sector.
The industry, which for decades has been considered a route toward Chile’s economic development, is being pointed to more and more by the activities of environmentalists and experts as a focus of pollution and a squanderer of water in certain zones where that resource is scarce.
The fair is taking place just as the price of copper is relatively high, above $4.50 per pound, but after several weeks of strong fluctuations.
The red metal, which is vital for energy transmission, is Chile’s main product and accounts for almost 50 percent of the country’s exports.