Challenges to the Copper Industry
Edited by Claes Brundenius
Chapter 1: Introduction
Claes Brundenius This volume deals with corporate response to the environmental imperative in the copper industries during the last 20 years, with a special emphasis on developing countries and transition economies. As a result of the dramatic increase in energy prices in the 1970s, and the concomitant tightening of environmental legislation in primarily the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe, a process of profound structural changes started in the copper industries in the West. The reason was that the copper industry is not only very energy-intensive but it is also one of the most polluting industries in the world. Thus, increasing energy prices, plus the new environmental imperative, led to closures of many copper plants, especially in the United States. Rising costs and volatile world market prices made it diﬃcult for many copper companies to survive. However, others have stayed in business, responding to the new challenge by investing in energy-saving and environmentally sounder technology. However, investment is as a rule quite costly and therefore prohibitive to many companies working with low proﬁt margins. Even so, the price fall in the 1980s made mining companies realize that the only way to survive was to ﬁnd a formula to increase productivity and drastically cut production costs, which could only be achieved through the introduction of new technologies. The objective of the research underlying this volume has been to take a closer look at the main copper producers in developing countries and transition economies, with a particular focus on Chile,...