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Potentials and myths of mining in Venezuela
Sun, 01/27/2013 - 21:32

Moisés Bittán

Al fin del día... un acuerdo entre Colombia y Venezuela
Moisés Bittán

Consultor internacional, Magíster en Ciencias Económicas, presidente de la Cámara de Comercio e Industria Venezolana Peruana (CAVEPERÚ), y presidente de la comisión de Cámaras Binacionales de Fedecámaras.

Venezuela is a country with mining potential par excellence, concentrating around 3% of the world's mineral supply.

The most important are iron, bauxite, phosphates, limestone, manganese, nickel, gypsum, gold, diamond and coal. Mining is relatively developed and diversified, even though in terms of profits it is concentrated in iron and bauxite.

The best valued mining resources are metallic, they are characterized by their hardness, malleability, heat and electricity transmission and have high economic value, since they are used in the construction sector, the metalworking industry and goldsmithing. The main ones are iron, with reserves estimated at 12,000 million tons; gold, with reserves of four million tons; nickel, aluminum, copper, zinc, lead and manganese.

On the other hand, there are non-metallic ones, which are chemical species with opposite characteristics to the previous ones, but contain elements that are very useful for various daily tasks, in addition to construction and goldsmithing, such as crystalline quartz, barite, kaolin. , feldspars, silicon, mica, salt, clay, diatomite and coal (the reserves of this last mineral, which was used as fuel until the appearance of oil, are estimated at 415 million tons).

Sustainable mining consists of the practice of extracting minerals in a responsible manner, correcting the damage that said activity causes to the ecosystem and that in turn generates social and economic benefits that contribute to the development of mining populations and the region, thus improving the quality of life of the people dedicated to this work, as well as that of the community.

In the world there is a consensus on the need to demand that those who carry out mining operations comply not only with an environmental code of ethics, but also respect for human life in each of their activities, especially education. Those countries in which large environmental liabilities are observed are poorly viewed as mining producers for disrespecting the environment and life.

Mining mobilizes the global economy and must be conceived in such a way that it not only provides foreign currency to the country, but also generates benefits in communities through comprehensive social programs. Residents of mining areas have to know what mining is and be informed in depth about all the phases of the exploration projects, the exploitation itself and the immediate repair of possible environmental liabilities that can be generated when the deposits are depleted. .

The stagnation of mining activity observed in the country in recent years is due to the greater intervention of the Executive in the sector, erroneous public policies - despite the fact that the State controls two thirds of it - and the technological lag. . Furthermore, it is worth adding the lack of investment in the sector for more than ten years, which makes it difficult to reverse the trend of said decline.

The great difficulty in obtaining statistics from government agencies is also evident and it is notable how many geology and mining professionals and technicians with proven experience have left the ministerial entity that regulates this activity.

Finally, it has been necessary to resort to imports to satisfy the internal needs of products that were previously exploited locally and even exported, due to the decline in mining production in the country, such as lime and asphalt, worsening even more. the situation with the increase in demand for housing construction by the Executive.

We have large mineral deposits, but until now only hydrocarbons have been given strategic importance as the main source of income. Countries like Bolivia, Chile, Peru and others have been able to live off mining extraction for years, positively impacting the rest of their economies.

Venezuela is called to develop mining to place itself in a vanguard position that provides sustainable and comprehensive development.

To do this, it must avoid expropriations and invite investors of proven solvency to participate in the activity, even more so when a large part of the territory is minerally rich, especially the Bolívar state.

It is imperative to establish sustainable, economic and social projects to achieve harmonious development, not only called to cover economic sustainability, but also ecological and social sustainability. To achieve sustainable mining, the illegal practice of this activity must be eliminated, due to the terrible damage it causes to the environment and the injuries it causes to the national treasury.

In order to face the new challenges of the mining sector, the State, companies and society must work together with common objectives, under the approaches of social responsibility and shared development and reduce conflicts generated mainly by the lack of transparency, communication and timely information.

In addition, qualified professionals and technicians must be trained in the new labor and regulatory requirements.

Sustainable mining management work must range from the management of artisanal mining, through the control of operations information, decision making, use of numerical methods, to the application of operations reengineering programs, which lead to improvement. technological and activity management.

The State must enforce the laws of the matter that regulate mining activity, to minimize environmental damage as much as possible and promote social and economic progress, thus seeking to achieve true sustainable mining development and the repositioning of our nation as a pole of progress.

*This column was originally published in El