"The mining industry is so important to the country that there should be a defined mining policy that could assure continuity regardless of government changes."
What are the priorities of IIMP for 2021?
A key priority for the industry and the country is to tackle the pandemic. During the first wave, Peru was the only mining country that shut down mining operations, and that was a mistake. The more than two months that were lost in terms of production had an impact on the economy. So, it is a priority to maintain the dialogue with the authorities during the second wave.
Beyond this, we will have a new government taking over in July 2021, and it seems likely that the presidential election will require two rounds. During this election process, the industry will have to be active to send its messages to the public. Over the last two years, we have seen two positive initiatives by the government, supported by IDB. The first one is the ‘Rimay’ initiative to define a vision of the mining industry towards 2030; an effort that needs to be continued now at a regional level. The second one was the creation of an inclusive working group to work on the industry’s long-term sustainability. The mining industry is so important to the country that there should be a defined mining policy that could assure continuity regardless of government changes.
What measures are being taken to prevent contagion during the second wave of the pandemic?
The mining industry in Peru already followed global standards before the pandemic in terms of industrial safety, occupational health and the environment. With these three pillars, we have now implemented a fourth pillar related to the pandemic. The formal mining industry is using the molecular tests, which offers a higher level of accuracy than the rapid tests. Molecular tests are done when workers enter or leave the camp. Also, distancing measures apply to workers while they are on site, with isolated working cells. This protocol is working well and it will probably continue over time. Of course, it means significant extra costs for mining operators.
Have you seen public sentiment improve towards mining in response to its social work during the pandemic?
The wider population recognizes that we have implemented safe protocols both in the operation and also in the communities around us. Our main advantage is that we are an export-oriented industry, therefore we have not been as deeply affected as other businesses such as tourism. While other sectors suffer from high unemployment levels at the moment, people recognize the mining industry’s effort to keep operating.
To what extent do you think the presidential elections in 2021 could impact Peru’s mining industry?
There is going to be a lot of noise. The campaign is going to be throwing lots of populist ideas to the public, and most probably the new government will not have control over Congress. The majority of the candidates, though, should be business friendly and whoever is elected will need to have a very fluid communication with the different economic and political actors.
What will be the main themes of the IIMP’s ProExplo virtual event in March?
ProExplo is focused on the exploration segment. One of our objectives is that those in charge of public policy understand that exploration is a high-risk activity with a minimal environmental impact. Yet, the permits are similar to what a mining operation requires. If that is not addressed, we will continue seeing a decrease in exploration expenditures, which is highly damaging to a mining country like Peru.
2021 is the 200 year anniversary of Peru’s independence. What changes would you like to see in the country’s mining industry?
Peru’s geological richness hosts huge operations like Cerro Verde, Las Bambas and Antamina, as well as narrow vein operations and artisanal mines. We need to promote large investments but also formalize the artisanal mining industry that is linked to gold production. It is estimated that half a million people are involved in artisanal mining, and this industry is not paying any taxes and is leaving a wide portfolio of environmental liabilities. This is the greatest challenge that needs to be addressed by the industry.