SYDNEY – While Chile “is and will continue to be a mining country,” investments in the sector should look beyond the economic cycle, said the Andean nation’s Mining Minister, Aurora Williams, during an official visit to Australia.
Mining – especially that of copper – the driving force of the Chilean economy, has been reeling from a fall in mineral prices as a result of weak growth in world GDP, China’s slowdown, falling demand and increased supply.
In a telephonic interview with EFE, Williams, who is taking part in the Australia-Chile Economic Leadership Forum 2016, being held in Melbourne on Dec. 5 and 6, underlined that presently, a good price of “around $2.5 per pound” is on offer for copper.
“We are looking at the market with expectation, as the price is above expectations and in line with the estimates by the Chilean Commission for Copper (Cochilco), and we are hoping for an average price of $2.15 for 2016 and $2.20 by 2017,” she said.
While she admitted current prices are lower than those during the Chilean “supercycle” bonanza, she stressed projection for mining investments in Chile for the next ten years is pegged at above $50 billion.
“From this perspective, we see very significant opportunities with regards to Australia,” she said, highlighting the importance of investments by Australian companies in mining operations, supplier presence and Chile’s capacity to generate 30 percent of the world copper.
Considering the copper market may witness a supply deficit beginning 2021 thereby raising prices of the coveted metal, Williams said Chilean presidency believes “the important thing is to have a slight supply surplus.”
“Today we see a higher demand for copper concentrate from China, and therefore, in practice, the market should balance out from now until 2019,” said Williams, part of a delegation that is being led by former Chilean leader Eduardo Frei.