In my constant conversations with big mining companies and mining suppliers, I tend to find evidence that we still have large cultural barriers to change and transform. Many of these barriers are weakening our permanent efforts to continually push modernization in this industry.
Here is one very concrete example: we still have buyers that prefer foreign services to national ones, despite the efforts of mining companies, governments, and supply associations to strengthen national services (which in other respects, due to their work and incorporation into countries like Chile, have great knowledge of real industrial problems and are a vital source of innovation).
As a result, many successful Chilean products and services have found a way to operate from outside of Chile. We see factories in the United States with “international brands” in order to sell in Chile. There are various cases of this and I see how day by day, new entrepreneurs are planning to do the same. They see it as the only way to be profitable at home and to compete with the international suppliers that already have a great advantage.
This has horrible consequences in job creation, innovation and creation of new Chilean products. To be “in the know” slowly goes migrating beyond our borders.
It could be that many national suppliers are simply lacking maturity, but supply development groups on a world-wide level have repeatedly shown that Chile has superbly administered businesses, with a true focus on quality service, innovation, training and exportation. It is to say that there is a mass movement to transform the national supply sector into a truly potent industry for the future development of this country and region.
This is a great reason to continue investing in and effectively helping mining supply businesses. Behind the suppliers, there are entrepreneurs with great ideas, motivation, high-quality management, courage to innovate and the vision to help national businesses expand on a global level.
Here is where we can create an important space for mining businesses, their suppliers and their governments to flourish with a perspective of collaboration that breaks established cultural paradigms like, “what comes from abroad is better”, “everything must be controlled”, or “it is suspicious when a Chilean succeeds”. This will help us make very important steps towards sustaining our future of mining.