June 18, 2024 #ChileDiverse

Amparo Cornejo: "Chilean women are playing a transforming role in historically masculinized industries such as mining".

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In the framework of the International Day of Women in Mining, the vice-president of South America of the mining company Teck, and member of the board of Imagen de Chile, states that "Chile is positioning itself today as a leader in sustainability".

She was appointed this year as the new ambassador for the International Women in Mining Day campaign (June 15), by the International Women in Mining (IWiM) organization, which said about her: "She is committed to a new mining sector (...), working for the inclusion of more women in the industry and moving towards the highest environmental standards".

Amparo Cornejo, vice president of South America, Teck Resources Limited, and member of the board of Fundación Imagen de Chile, has led the Canadian mining company's sustainability and inclusion and diversity strategies since 2022. However, her trajectory linked to the insertion of women in the mining sector is earlier: in 2019, she was recognized as Executive of the Year by Women in Mining Chile and in 2020 she was named in the list of 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining UK .

Currently, the participation of women in large-scale mining in Chile stands at 18%, a growth of 3 points with respect to 2022 . Cornejo argues that Chilean mining is striving to modernize, in organizational and human terms. However, she says the mining industry still has a long way to go in its gender agenda. "Along with the incorporation of more women, there are relevant challenges in terms of working conditions, infrastructure and development that are adequate, safe and fair. These conditions must allow women to stay in the industry," says Cornejo.

International Women in Mining Day is a global campaign that seeks to raise awareness of the importance of gender diversity and inclusion in the mining industry. How would you compare Chile's situation on this issue with that of other mining countries?

It is inspiring and I am very honored to have been chosen as an ambassador for this celebration in 2024 because it projects Chile, one of the largest mining producers in the world, as a country committed to promoting a more inclusive, equitable, diverse and socially connected mining industry. Although in our country we have had a sustained increase in female participation in recent years, we still have a long way to go to advance in the gender and equity agenda presented by countries such as Canada and Australia. These global instances encourage us to continue working to ensure that the mining industry is a place where all people, regardless of gender, can thrive and reach their full potential.

To what do you attribute the increase in the participation of women in large-scale mining? What challenges does Chile face to ensure that this percentage continues to increase?

Chilean mining is changing and we are striving to modernize it, in organizational and human terms. There have been significant advances in equality and equity, not only focused on increasing the percentage of women, but also on substantially transforming the culture of our organizations. Concrete measures, such as the promotion of cultural changes with a gender perspective, the adoption of advanced technology and automated processes, as well as a firm and continuous commitment of the mining ecosystem to implement policies that facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life, have been key to this increase in female participation.

However, addressing a more egalitarian future is not determined by numbers alone. There are relevant challenges in terms of working conditions, infrastructure and development that are adequate, safe and fair. And they must allow women to stay in the industry while we continue to attract young talent, because the time to belong in mining is now. 

Teck has promoted several initiatives as part of a Diversity and Inclusion strategy. What are these initiatives?

At Teck, we are actively working to achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion: this means fostering a work environment that respects and values the diversity of the people and communities in which we operate. We have consistently driven to increase the representation of women and have given them equal access to opportunities to participate and advance within the company.

In turn, our new operational phase of Teck Quebrada Blanca has 28% female talent. In addition, our leadership programs, mentoring and training programs exclusively for women, and pioneering initiatives such as the Gender and Inclusion Center at Quebrada Blanca, have been crucial in strengthening support networks and reinforcing our commitment to ensuring a work environment free of discrimination and harassment.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Fundación Imagen de Chile, what role do you think women play in the country's image?

"Chile Country of Women", I feel very identified with this statement of the Foundation. Today many Chilean women are playing a transforming role in influential but historically masculinized industries such as mining, and they are doing so with a leadership of greater closeness and attention to the social, economic and environmental challenges that Chile needs to project itself as a country that is evolving for the future. 

I also admire the cultural role that indigenous women from the north of our country contribute to Chile's image. I have been fortunate to meet many of them in the Originarias program, supported by Teck in alliance with UN Women, who protect and promote their ancestral knowledge and wisdom through the marketing of their products around the world. At the same time, they achieve greater social and economic empowerment that directly helps the development of their communities. 

Inclusion and sustainability are major challenges for the mining industry. How do the Chilean public and private sectors incorporate environmental responsibility into their production processes today? 

The mining industry has contributed very positively to Chile's development and growth, introducing technologies and innovations that not only contribute to production, but also to the country in general. Teck, for example, has implemented the desalination plant at Quebrada Blanca, eliminating the need to extract groundwater and ensuring that 100% of its energy comes from renewable sources. It has also returned groundwater rights to the state and signed agreements with indigenous communities to promote community well-being and sustainability.

At the policy level, Chile is now positioning itself as a leader in sustainability. The country has a robust institutional framework that supports investment in mining projects that meet high environmental and social standards. This combination of strict regulations and a favorable investment environment has allowed Chile to maintain its competitiveness as one of the world's leading mineral exporters, which directly contributes to making an increasingly sustainable future possible.


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