The “optimism” of the large ones

During the recent “e-mineração”, event organized by IBRAM (Brazilian Mining Institute), 15 thousand attendees, 600 companies interested in doing business with more than 20 mining companies, 208 business roundtables, 12 lectures, 15 startup presentations, 27 lives were reported. The Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, confirmed the good performance of the Brazilian mining industry, even in view of the adverse effects of the new coronavirus pandemic. According to him, revenues from Brazilian mineral production in the first half of 2020 were 1% higher than that noticed in the first half of 2019, and the mineral trade balance in the first quarter, already under the covid-19 crisis installed in Asian and European countries, was US$ 5.2 billion.

Although the optimistic analysis presented by the Minister was predictable, the success of the mineral elite confirms the fact that this restricted group is “tragedy-proof”, not always due to its own technical efficiency. It happens, mainly, when the mining company reaches a global scale status, out of which it immunizes itself against any kind of disaster. This immunity may have been achieved by some of circa 20 mining companies present at the above-mentioned event.

IBRAM have organized and spread its peculiar optimism in the e-mineração to thousands of participants, when it was expected something more than the display of the exceptional results by the hosts or the expectations of support for some “juniors” to continue indiscriminately drilling the Brazilian soil.

From a major event like this, it was expected propositional approaches to the effective distribution of the success achieved by those few “optimists”. Real responses for the day-to-day and the national economy; proposals for larger production and national consumption of steel; broader local consumption of our ores; improvements of logistics; paying their taxes and obligations in due course; purchasing of rails, wagons, locomotives, and ships made in Brazil; taking better care of the environment; leading, verticalizing and spreading economic activities within Brazil; opening up new jobs.

For the big ones, the price of commodities reacts positively to disasters. As it recently happened, for example, after the two environmental tragedies in Brazil, when the rise in iron ore prices strengthened the cash flow of the responsible companies. During the pandemic, some large Chilean mining companies are operating with almost half of the workforce, although close to nominal production capacity (there are several explanations for this), protected by the increase in the price of Gold and Copper. It seems that there is no disaster, environmental tragedy or pandemic capable to overthrow the natural optimism of those which extract millions of tons of ore and then sell it to the global market.

Although the mining of the big ones also involves hard technical, logistic and administrative work, as well as a business challenges in favor of Brazil, the immunity and “optimism” discussed here make it easier an eventual generation of comfort zones within the organizations. Because of this, it is possible to conclude that many of the strategies of efficiency, total quality, optimization, operational excellence and other subjects, seem to be directed mainly to autonomous professionals and small companies in the mineral area. Those who are always committed to make it good, nice looking and cheap, and, under this perspective, the current situation of mining cannot be seen with such optimism.

Alexis Yovanovic

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