Chile: Overview And Findings: Recent Study On The Productivity Of The Chilean Mining Industry

Last Updated: 18 August 2017

Productivity in Chile´s mining industry has lagged that of other developed mining jurisdictions for some time. In response to these concerns, the government conducted a study through Comisión Nacional de Productividad (CNP). The study consisted of the following:

  • Collaborative report between CNP, Mining Ministry, Cochilco, Mining Council, Fundación Chile, Matrix Consulting and many others.
  • Benchmark analysis comparing 12 Chilean operations from large scale copper mining with best practice operations from Australia, Canada, United States, Peru and Sweden (sample is 30% of world production)
  • Over 500 interviews in 12 Chilean mines, 7 international best practice mines (1 Australian), suppliers, contractors, institutions, and experts.

Alfie Ulloa detailed last April, at Cesco Copper week, that the data collected show important productivity gaps, both within Chile and with respect to international operations.

"Regarding the efficiency in the use of equipment, there is an important heterogeneity (or difference) of productivity between the Chilean mining sites considered in the sample with the average of the international sample: For example, in transport, the most efficient deposit in Chile used trucks 80% of calendar time, while the least efficient 47%. The national (international) average is 64% (71%)", he stated.

The following are recommendations from the report on Mining Productivity. They are grouped into three large groups: private, sectoral and public. The first (private) is manageable by companies themselves, the second case (sectorial) require coordination between the sector's agents, for example, mining companies with their suppliers and/or contractors (among others). The third case is manageable by the public side.

Private – Managed by Companies

  1. Reduce the rotation of senior executives.
  2. Reduce the layers of hierarchy.
  3. Change the "controlist" management culture, which reduces initiative (cuts off the wings of those below), dilutes responsibility and raises costs.
  4. Greater emphasis on empowerment and accountability.
  5. Too much oversight is dedicated to administrative tasks (filling out paperwork and documenting work) at the expense of better planning and organization of work.
  6. Improve adherence and compliance with plans.
  7. Consider using fleets of single model equipment to improve maintenance and reduces parts inventory.
  8. Increase automation and greater real time data management.
  9. Establish a meritocratic culture increasing internal workers mobility
  10. Generate incentives linked to the overall productivity of the operation and not to partial goals per phase of the process
  11. Consider a bonus linked to profits (a percentage that is linked and naturally fluctuates with margins).
  12. To create programs of training and continuous training, both in technical and soft skills, that are certifiable for the worker.
  13. Increasing the use of polyfunctional workers, provided that they are certified, do not jeopardize safety, and is remunerated accordingly.
  14. Consider the option of 3 shifts of 8 1/2 hours (overlapping shifts), 10×4 or 5×2, instead of shifts of 12 hours 7×7; Consider the use of overlapping shifts (some starting at 7, others at 8, etc., to achieve greater continuity in processes).

Sectorial – Coordination between Stakeholders

  1. Develop test spaces to pilot new equipment and technologies.
  2. Share infrastructure to gain scale (energy, desalination, pipelines).
  3. Develop public infrastructure, especially in an area of medium size deposits (railways, roads, ports).
  4. Conduct joint research on issues of joint interest.
  5. Align research with the technological roadmap for mining challenges.
  6. Adopt massively the positions profiles and required competencies defined by the report.
  7. Establish common standards for mining contractors.
  8. Greater coordination for health examinations.
  9. Improve contract management, with longer lead times, better planning and coordination.
  10. Create a mining passport, which centralizes workers' information and those of contractors.
  11. Focus on competency/experience evaluations instead of education titles.
  12. Development of world class mining providers database that has more complete profiles and background information.


  1. To shorten the institutional process for the approval/disapproval of large projects from 5 to 3 years.
  2. Establish an office for large projects that link the public sector with companies developing and operating projects.
  3. To promote research centers and world-class mining technology transfer in Chile, and aim to realize 30% of global mining R & D in Chile.
  4. "Use it or lose it" mining concessions regarding exploitation.
  5. Improve the mining concessions system to that of international levels.
  6. Generate and make available more geological information.
  7. Shorten the number of procedures required for the solicitation of concessions.
  8. Update the coordinating system for tracking concessions and publish the registration of professionals to carry out the measurements.
  9. Develop programs to bring medium-sized miners closer to the financial sector.
  10. Increase the period of the exploration concessions.
  11. Limit collective agreements to between workers and private companies (Without the intervention of the authority).
  12. Strengthening public institutions that support mining (Sernageomin and Cochilco)
  13. Comply with the recommendations of the OECD regarding the governance of ENAMI.
  14. To create a network of schools with a focus on mining that focuses on certification of workers.
  15. Promote dialogue between companies and communities through institutional channels.
  16. Simplify permits and procedures for projects under evaluation.
  17. Improve the institutional framework of local governments.
  18. Encourage testing spaces for suppliers of innovation.
  19. Facilitate the use of sea water in mining.
  20. Review standards required for "high-altitude" work.
  21. Establish a standard for mobile cafeterias, and expedite the approval process by Regional Health Services.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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