Roque Benavides: “PERUMIN shows the decentralizing work of the mining industry”

President of Confiep also noted the participation of our country in the Pacific Alliance.

The President of the National Confederation of Private Business Institutions (Confiep) and chairman of the Board of Compañía de Minas Buenaventura, Roque Benavides, highlighted the decentralizing work of mining by holding PERUMIN 33 Mining Convention in Arequipa. He also mentioned the participation of our country in the Pacific Alliance, as one of the pillars for its development.

What are your expectations regarding PERUMIN 33 to be held in Arequipa?

I am delighted with the fact that PERUMIN will be held again at the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA) Two years ago PERUMIN was held for the first time at this university and I was the chair of this successful event. I believe that the integration between the public university and the mining industry is fundamental and we should keep promoting it. Beyond the success of the economic movement caused by the development of a conference like this in the region, it also shows the decentralizing task of the mining industry. Without any doubt, PERUMIN has gained an extraordinary position.

How does this approach between the mining industry and education occurred?

I guess the circumstances contribute to it, a coincidence, but also the initiative and open mind of the public university to say “I welcome the industry”, which contributes towards a better environment in our country. But also, Arequipa has arrived at the conclusion that PERUMIN contributes to tourism. Every hotel benefits, even if participants are not there for tourism but to attend the conferences. This week, without any doubt, covers at a great extent the yearly costs for every hotel. Stating that mining is isolated from other sectors is absurd, restaurants are full, the population can offer their products, their architectural beauties, in summary, everything is important.

During PERUMIN 33, mining representatives from the Pacific Alliance countries will participate; what is the importance of this integration mechanism for the national industry?

During the last 25 years, 4 great pillars have been built in Peru. The first one, free trade agreements (FTA) with 2/3 of the global gross product. These contain a chapter to defend investment, so it is understood that Peru respects investment. Then, we have investment level. Not all the countries in Latin America have it, such as Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Bolivia. But those who do are Chile, Colombia and Peru. This shows transparency in economic management.

Regarding the third point, we take part of the Pacific Alliance, one of the best-structured international agreement, without sharing borders but with common objectives. And as fourth pillar, we have an independent Central Bank of Reserves of Peru (BCRP). In this manner, free trade agreements, the level of investment, the Pacific Alliance and an independent BCRP are the pillars that will help us to develop our country even further.

Which are the main problems impacting the Peruvian mining sector?

Peru suffers from 3 main endemic diseases, among others. One is the centralism, we need to decentralize more, to offer more opportunities to the provinces, mainly in the rural area. We are also very informal, we need to formalize the economy and, of course, we need to fight against corruption. If we fail to greatly or eliminate informality, and corruption and we fail to decentralize the country, the progress will be very little. The formula is not to pass more laws, but to generate value in our population. This is the type of message that should be conveyed in PERUMIN.

Another main topic to be addressed in PERUMIN 33 is the environment; in Peru, what are the lessons learned of the mining sector in this regard?

There are clear examples and the most palpable is in Arequipa. 100% of Arequipa Sewage waters used to be discharged to Chili river and Cerro Verde has collected, purified and used them for its expansion. The Chili river has been cleaned, which is a very valuable environmental asset. Therefore, we firmly believe that mining can contribute with environmental assets.

The same may occur in Tía María if the Paltiture reservoir is built. It will help to have much more water during the year at Tambo river, benefiting farmers. We need to acknowledge that Tambo river is naturally contaminated with boron, but if we had a larger amount of water running down the valley, this will clean those waters. There are many examples of good environmental assets contributed by the mining sector.

I firmly believe in the water brotherhood: agriculture and mining. Water first and mining later that can contribute to build the reservoirs that are so needed. Pretending that water will confront mining with agriculture is a viciousness that needs to be eliminated.

Since you mentioned Arequipa; what do you think about the mining investments in the region?

In Buenaventura, we have a 20% share from Cerro Verde, that is very important and that is a great asset. We feel absolutely satisfied to be part of the largest copper concentrator plant in the world. But also, since 1965, the Orcopampa mine site is being operating at Castilla province. And recently, we have started production at the Tambomayo mine site in Caylloma province at 4800 masl.

Because of all of this and for the future, we believe in the mining potential of Arequipa and we consider that is paramount to place value on these resources to benefit the community, the region, the youngsters and the most-needed people.

Is there any estimate regarding the investment growth by 2018?

In 2017, our growth has been of 2.8% or maybe a bit less, but we need to recognize that the “Niño costero” and Odebrecht corrupt actions had a negative impact on the country’s growth. With the reconstruction and the Panamericanos games we may undoubtedly grow in 2018, by 4% or maybe 5% or 6%. To work, to add value to all our country’s potentials will bring a lot of prosperity.

It is paramount that the government supports the investment, mainly in the rural area. Many times, mining companies feel very lonely in the isolated areas of our country.

What is PERUMIN importance in this context of some metals prices recovery?

Mainly, to highlight the mining potential or our country, to note that some investments have been unblocked, which adds to the flexibility of the environmental regulations that were too restrictive, more than it should be. Therefore, mining industry has many results to show in production, in the protection of the environment, in respecting communities and, of course, in contributing towards the Peruvian economy.

Which message would you give to the participants of PERUMIN 33?

To the participants of PERUMIN 33, I will tell them that this is the bit fair, great convention that gathers international lecturers, mining companies and suppliers from different parts of the world in Arequipa and that firmly bets for the development of our country.

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The engineer Roque Benavides was the Chair of the Organizing Committee of PERUMIN 32 Mining Convention that was held in 2015 at the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA) of Arequipa.