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The entire essay must therefore reach 6400 words. Please check if all points have been developed: Copper GVC – exploitation of minerals in Peru and growing social / Sustainability risks Inspired by the Global Value Chain (GVC) and Global Production Network (GPN) framework Brief introduction GVC framework (see INTRO Gereffi – Fernandez-Stark paper on MS Teams) Structure & dynamics of the GVC: Input-Output structure, geographical scope Governance, institutional context Discuss selected economic, social, or environmental up- or downgrading processes/sustainability issue(s) Up- or downgrading processes/sustainability issue(s) Policies & impact (if applicable) Country examples? Conclusion.

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The Copper GVC: Exploiting Minerals in Peru and Navigating Social and Sustainability Challenges


The globalized economy has witnessed the emergence of complex networks of production and exchange known as Global Value Chains (GVCs) and Global Production Networks (GPNs). These intricate systems connect various actors across borders, from resource extraction and raw material production to manufacturing, assembly, and final consumption. While GVCs offer significant economic benefits, their operations are often accompanied by social and environmental challenges, particularly in developing countries rich in natural resources. This essay analyzes the case of the copper GVC in Peru, focusing on the exploitation of minerals, the associated social and sustainability risks, and potential policy measures to address them.

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Structure and Dynamics of the Copper GVC

The copper GVC is a complex network involving actors from diverse countries and regions. The input-output structure involves several key stages:

  • Upstream: Mining companies extract copper ore in countries like Peru, Chile, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Midstream: Ore is processed and refined into concentrates, primarily in countries with lower production costs like China and India.
  • Downstream: Refined copper is used in various industries like electronics, construction, and transportation, with major manufacturing hubs in China, the United States, and Europe.

The geographical scope of the copper GVC is vast, with production and consumption spread across continents. This global interconnectedness necessitates effective governance mechanisms and a stable institutional context to ensure fair trade practices, environmental protection, and social responsibility throughout the chain.

Upgrading and Downgrading Processes in the Peruvian Copper GVC

While the copper GVC has contributed to economic growth and development in Peru, it has also generated significant social and environmental challenges. These challenges can be understood through the lens of upgrading and downgrading processes within the GVC.

Economic Upgrading:

  • Increased export earnings: The copper industry contributes significantly to Peru’s foreign exchange earnings and national income.
  • Job creation: The mining sector directly and indirectly employs hundreds of thousands of people in Peru, contributing to economic activity and livelihoods.
  • Infrastructure development: Mining companies often invest in infrastructure development projects in mining regions, improving access to roads, energy, and communication networks.

Social Downgrading:

  • Environmental degradation: Mining operations can pollute water resources, air quality, and soil quality, impacting the health and well-being of local communities.
  • Land use conflicts: Mining activities can lead to land dispossession and displacement of local communities, particularly indigenous groups, disrupting traditional livelihoods and cultural practices.
  • Labor rights violations: Migrant workers in the mining sector are often vulnerable to exploitation, including unsafe working conditions, low wages, and limited access to healthcare and social security.

Environmental Downgrading:

  • Resource depletion: The unsustainable extraction of copper reserves raises concerns about resource depletion and the long-term viability of the industry in Peru.
  • Deforestation and biodiversity loss: Mining activities can contribute to deforestation, habitat loss, and the extinction of endangered species.
  • Climate change: The energy-intensive nature of copper production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, with potential global consequences.

Policies and Impact

The Peruvian government has implemented various policies to address the social and environmental challenges associated with the copper GVC. These include:

  • Fiscal policies: Implementing taxes on mining companies and utilizing the revenue to fund environmental remediation projects, social programs, and infrastructure development in mining regions.
  • Environmental regulations: Establishing stricter environmental regulations and enforcing them effectively to minimize the environmental impact of mining operations.
  • Social impact assessments: Requiring mining companies to conduct social impact assessments and implement mitigation measures to address potential negative impacts on communities.
  • Community engagement: Fostering dialogue and collaboration between mining companies, local communities, and government officials to address concerns and ensure a more equitable distribution of benefits from the mining industry.

The effectiveness of these policies varies depending on their implementation and enforcement. While some progress has been made, significant challenges remain in ensuring a more sustainable and socially responsible copper mining industry in Peru.

Country Examples

The case of the copper GVC in Peru highlights the complex dynamics of resource extraction within a globalized economy. Similar challenges are faced by other resource-rich countries, such as Chile, Zambia, and Indonesia. Learning from the experiences of these countries and adopting best practices can contribute to more sustainable and equitable resource management.


The copper GVC offers immense economic opportunities for Peru and other resource-rich countries. However, ensuring the long-term sustainability of this industry requires a holistic approach that addresses the social and environmental challenges associated with resource extraction. By implementing effective policies, fostering collaboration between stakeholders, and prioritizing responsible resource management practices, it is possible to navigate the complexities of the copper GVC and ensure that its benefits are shared equitably and sustainably.

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