I recently returned from Latin America, where I met with representatives of governments, industry, universities and NGO’s – plus IM4DC Alumni. Discussions focused on issues surrounding resources extraction, economic growth and social development, Australian and Latin American experience in dealing with them, and priorities from IM4DC in the region.
In all my discussions, I was struck by the strength of the Australian reputation for mining knowledge and technology, mining services, sustainability and cultural competence. In mining, and indeed in other pursuits, Australian and Australians are held in high esteem. I believe that Australia is looked to more than any other nation as a trusted partner and preferred mining and services investor in Latin America.
Indeed, analysis by SNL Mining and Metals, shortly to be released, shows that Australian listed mining companies are second only to Canadian companies in investment in Latin America. In addition, an Austmine survey shows that some 27 per cent of Australian mining equipment, technology and services (METS) firms export to Latin America.
It is not only Australian mining and METS companies that are prominent in Latin America. Australian research and academic institutions also have strong reputations, built on a history of working with Chilean partner institutions, including as part of Chile’s Centre of Excellence program. These are key elements of the government’s strategy to build Chile as a regional and global hub for research and learning.
This powerful position for ‘Team Australia’ to leverage by doing good and doing well through support of our Latin American country partners to build their mineral and energy endowments into sustainable economic growth and social development.
IM4DC is helping Latin American countries and enhancing Brand Australia through its education, training, research and institutional collaborations in Latin America. In the 29 months since IM4DC’s incpetion, some 320 Latin American participants have attended short courses and workshops, while institutional partnerships are being built with government agencies, NGO’s and universities. Our alumni network is enthusiastic and growing, and is eager to take initiatives to enhance knowledge-sharing across institutions and nations.
Latin America is an important trade and investment destination for Australia with big potential for further growth. It is a focus for effort by our diplomatic missions and Austrade offices. IM4DC is proud to be contributing both to sustainable development in partner countries and to Australia’s business position in the region.