ECUADOR - Energy & Mining
Head of Corporate Affairs, BHP
Rodrigo Darquea joined BHP in Chile in 2006, after which he took on various positions in different teams in Singapore, Australia, and Brazil. In May 2021, after almost 20 years oversees, he returned to Quito to lead the Corporate Affairs Team that is accountable for BHP’s global exploration activities. Darquea has been director of the Chamber of Mines of Ecuador since 2021. He holds a bachelor in business administration and a major in finance from Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile.
BHP is convinced that developing local mining in a responsible way with the participation of different actors and institutions in society can benefit thousands of Ecuadorians.
What is the significance of BHP’s presence in Ecuador?
BHP has a long history working in Ecuador during the 1980s and 1990s and returned to Ecuador to open offices in 2017. BHP supports the country and believes in its potential. Ecuador is geographically located in an area of high geological interest for mining; having only been minimally explored, important deposits have already been discovered. BHP has a simple and diverse portfolio of tier one assets. They are long life, low cost, and expandable. To extract the most value and the highest returns from our assets, we apply our values and culture, operate them safely and productively, and deploy technology. Our growth strategy is based on what we at BHP call “future-facing commodities”: nickel for batteries, potash for sustainable agriculture, and copper for electrification and decarbonization. Based on this strategy, we have revised our portfolio over recent years and have stepped away from resources such as energy coal. The world needs more copper, and in Ecuador we are looking for tier 1 copper deposits with a long-term future and that will make an important impact on supply. I am delighted as an Ecuadorian who has seen, in more than 16 years working at BHP, the economic and social value generated by the company, that we are investing in Ecuador with the intention of responsibly bringing the resources that the world needs (copper) and, at the same time, generating opportunities for Ecuadorians. It is a dream.
What investments can BHP bring to Ecuador, and what could be the economic impact of them?
I asked in our last meeting with the Ecuadorian government, “Why don’t we make of Ecuador a global example of how the mining industry should operate?” The mining industry is just beginning in Ecuador, and we can benefit from the learnings of the past, the implementation of the best social and environmental practices, and the use of the most-advanced technology available these days. Creating social value is fundamental, and I would love to support the implementation in Ecuador of the work that we are doing in Chile, in terms of creating a positive economic impact on local communities. The Mining Cluster, for example, has been channeling the potential of this industry by encouraging investment, for the construction of human, productive, technological and innovation capacities in the country. We can see the results now with more and more Chilean suppliers providing quality products, services and technology to the mining industry in the region. Ecuador needs investment, quality employment, knowledge, technology and skills to strengthen its fight against poverty, for the protection of the environment and for the improvement of the quality of life of its inhabitants. The development of the mining industry in a responsible way, with the participation of the different actors and institutions in Ecuadorian society, can generate a virtuous circle that has the potential to benefit thousands of Ecuadorians, including those who live in the most remote parts of the country.
What sustainability model could BHP develop in Ecuador in terms of community development and environmental protection?
This is my passion. The company’s purpose is to bring people and resources together to build a better world. You cannot develop this industry if you do not bring value to all sectors and areas of interest. Our activities need to benefit suppliers, employees, government, customers and the community in general. This is the core of sustainable mining, and as a company we have been working on this for 137 years and have learned many things during this time. We know that when we invest in a country, we become an intrinsic part of its surroundings, its economy, its community and society as a whole. The sustainable mining that BHP wants to do in Ecuador is a long-term activity that will last decades. Social value underpins everything we do and it’s about our planet, our people and prosperity of all.
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