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Villena, M., & Greve, F. (2018). On resource depletion and productivity: The case of the Chilean copper industry. Resour. Policy, 59, 553–562.
Abstract: How resource depletion affects productivity is a crucial question for several industries. In fact, several natural resource-exporting countries have seen their productivity levels affected by resource depletion. Nevertheless, usually, it is not clear what the real productivity growth is, without discarding the effects of resource depletion in the production structure. The main aim of the paper is to empirically answer a relevant issue regarding the Chilean copper mining industry, which is, the slowdown of its productivity in the last decade, considering in the analysis the role of resource depletion. In particular, we consider resource depletion to be an exogenous and unpaid force that opposes technological change and hence increases costs through time, capturing in this way some stylized facts of, for example, the mining and fishing industries. The decomposition framework was applied to the Chilean copper mining industry, one of the most important in the world, using data from the period of 1985-2015. The econometric results were robust and pointed to the fact that the productivity fell sharply during the period; however, it did not fall as much as the traditional estimation methods pointed out. Our model showed that as much as 15% of this decline was due to the increase of the resource depletion variable (copper ore grade).