Attracting mining investments: the relationship between natural endowments and public policies

Abstract

Mining jurisdictions avid to attract international investments to find and exploit their mineral deposits contend for international capitals. This led to policymakers, analysts, and companies to think about the factors affecting the competitiveness of mining districts. The traditional paradigm states that the capacity of a country or jurisdiction to attract investments and develop its local industry is a function exclusively of the quantity and quality of the ore deposits within its territory. On the other hand, the alternative view suggests that the previous conception is incomplete, because companies not only look for a good geologic potential but also for a favorable investment climate (Tilton 1992). Through cross-country econometric models covering the years 1996 to 2014, this work supports the alternative paradigm of mining competitiveness and tries to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between the geological potential and the investment climate when determining the attraction of mining investments. The study concludes that, in order to develop a local mining industry, a country should have a wealthy natural endowment, but also it must offer a good investment climate. In addition, it shows that both variables are related through a multiplicative effect, but once public policies and other contextual variables reach certain reasonable levels (the “investment climate threshold”), jurisdictions compete almost exclusively based on its natural endowment. These results have significant implications for the implementation of public policies, especially in periods when mining contribution to social welfare is under scrutiny.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    These documents are different versions of the same research.

  2. 2.

    The country’s share on exploration budgets/expenditures could be good proxy of mining competitiveness (Jara et al. 2008).

  3. 3.

    There have been several examples of this situation during the last decades; civil war in the former Yugoslavia (1991–2001), Chad (2005–2010), Afghanistan (1978-) or Sudan (2013-); authoritarian and corrupt governments in some African and Latin American countries.

  4. 4.

    The yearly dataset has slightly changed over time; however, these modifications have no impact on the conclusions of the study.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is an updated version of the MSc thesis developed by SD. This work was part of a contract research between Minera Los Pelambres (MLP) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The authors would like to acknowledge Mr. Magnus Ericsson, Editor-in-Chief of Mineral Economics and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript, which considerably improved it. JJJ and GL would like to thanks MLP and Antofagasta Minerals S.A. (AMSA) for their financial support and the access to SNL data that was critical to this study, in particular, to Christian Brea (Fundación MLP) and Rodrigo Moya (AMSA) for their kind support. JJJ acknowledges the support of a Doctoral Scholarship from Conicyt.

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Correspondence to José Joaquín Jara.

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Jara, J.J., Delucchi, S., Peters, D. et al. Attracting mining investments: the relationship between natural endowments and public policies. Miner Econ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13563-020-00230-7

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Keywords

  • Competitiveness
  • Geologic potential
  • Investment climate
  • Cross-country models
  • Exploration expenditures
  • Index of economic freedom