International innovation

Chile and Australia sign global mining agreement

New Memorandum of Understanding follows confirmation of a joint partnership to develop a “Center of Excellence” for mining research in Chile.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 Category: Business
Chuquicamata, in Northern Chile, is the world’s largest open-pit copper mine. Photo: Magnus von Koel Chuquicamata, in Northern Chile, is the world’s largest open-pit copper mine. Photo: Magnus von Koeller / Flickr

Chile and Australia have signed a commitment that will further strengthen ties between the countries’ mining industries.


The Memorandum of Understanding, signed last month by Dr. Megan Clark, head of the Australian government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), with President Sebastián Piñera in attendance, aims to promote innovation, technology, and investment in vocational training and post graduate job creation.


The Chilean Ambassador in Australia, Pedro Pablo Díaz, said that the new agreement demonstrates a “commitment to tackling common challenges together.”


“This commitment spans many sectors including trade, investment, education, research, security and environmental sustainability,” said Díaz.


Chief among the two nations’ aims is to continue the development of a cutting edge mining research and design institute in Chile. The research center, known as the CSIRO Chile International Center of Excellence in Mining and Mineral Processing, will join industry experts with leading Chilean universities in a bid to develop technologies that will both increase productivity and reduce environmental impact in the industry.


This is the fourth such “Center of Excellence” created in Chile since the Chilean Economic Development Agency (Corfo) sent out the first round of applications in 2009. The International Centers of Excellence Program sees Corfo and the government pledge a significant investment of up to US$13 million to successful applicants looking to develop R&D centers abroad.


Along with the CSIRO center, Corfo has agreed deals with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany), Inria (France) and Wageningen UR (the Netherlands) in the biotechnology, ICT and food industries respectively.


The CSIRO center will initially have branches in both Santiago and Antofagasta. As well as CSIRO and five industry partners, including the largest copper miner in the world, Codelco, the center will collaborate with the Universidad de Chile, the Universidad de Antofagasta, and Chilean mineral technology center Cicitem.


Along with technological developments in the mining sector, the center hopes to become a strong job creator, as well as a catalyst for bilateral business opportunities between service companies in Australia and Chile.  


Both Chile and Australia mine in arid conditions with water constraints, and facing such similar challenges has led to the countries’ working closely together over the last fifteen years. 

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