OECD Territorial Reviews: Antofagasta, Chile 2013

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Chile has been very successful in turning its natural resource endowments into a generator of growth and modernisation. However, its mining regions, including Antofagasta, face the challenge of developing a critically important primary sector in a manner that contributes to both economic growth and broader measures of well-being. Antofagasta's long term sustainability goals include a more diversified economic base, supported by a city that is lived in for its high quality of life and the opportunities it offers. To achive this, it will need to make the most of its natural endowments, improve the city's physical attractiveness and ensure better urban policy outcomes. It will also require regional and local actors to act in a strategic and innovative manner. This study focuses on economic diversification, urbanism and governance in the city of Antofagasta. Consideration is given to: economic and socio-economic trends such as those associated with labour markets and skills, as well as quality of life factors; opportunities for specialisation, diversification and innovation within and beyond the mining cluster, including throught its port network; urban policy challenges especially in land use, waste management, environment and public transport; and to the role of public governance in helping the city realise its economic and quality of life objectives.

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Innovation trajectories and diversification strategies in Antofagasta

Two of Antofagasta’s primary natural resources, copper and its coastline, translate into primary economic assets: mining and the port network. Of Chile’s total copper production, 54.4% is concentrated in the region of Antofagasta, and mining represents 66% of the region’s GDP. The four ports forming Antofagasta’s port network, combined, handled 11.45 million tonnes of cargo in 2011, which would make the region of Antofagasta the largest port complex in Chile, representing 18% of total Chilean port volumes. This chapter explores the need for a locally established economic growth and competitiveness policy, supported by public and private actors. It covers the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in economic sustainability, reviews opportunities and barriers for the mining cluster’s development, and considers the scope available for economic diversification. It also reflects on Antofagasta’s competitiveness as a global port city and concludes with recommendations for building stronger industries around both existing assets.


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