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Curtin alumnus helping guide the world’s biggest copper producer

Cite Magazine
Online exclusive

Roberto Rodrigo Fréraut Contreras reveals how his master degree helped prepare him for the position of Exploration Manager at the Chilean state owned mining company Codelco – the world’s largest producer of copper.

Roberto Rodrigo Fréraut Contreras
(Photo: Codelco)

Landing the job of Exploration Manager of Codelco is no mean feat. With the copper mining giant contributing more than US$100 billion per year to the economic development of Chile, only the best are selected to join its management ranks.

As exploration manager of Codelco, he has been directly responsible for implementing new exploration strategies to discover new mineral resources in Chile, as well creating new growth opportunities for the company.

“Codelco is the most important copper production company in the world,” says Contreras.

“Being a state owned company, all of its revenues belong to the state, meaning that all workers contribute in a direct way to Chile’s development.”

While his appointment to exploration manager has been recent, Contreras has worked at Codelco for the past 20 years, rising from the position of superintendent at Chuquicamata, the world’s largest open pit copper mine, to more senior positions.

“I’m motivated by being able to give all within my power to form new ideas and proposals that will lead to the discovery of opportunities and development of my country,” he says.

Open pit copper mine of Chuquicamata, Chile

Open pit copper mine of Chuquicamata, Chile (photo: Jess Kraft/

Contreras says that studying a Master of Science (Mineral Economics) at Curtin in 2007-08 – which taught him analytical and managerial skills suitable for decision-making roles in the mining industry – strongly benefitted his career development, eventually leading him to his current position.

“The course complemented my current career projection and taught me the abilities required to participate in the integrated mining business,” he says.

“Besides the excellent quality of the teaching staff and course outline, it provided me with the opportunity to share my experience with students from different parts of the world and with different backgrounds and interests.”

Looking towards the future, Contreras hopes to support Codelco as the company seeks to expand its operations outside of South America.

“My personal dream is to participate in the discovery of a world class deposit,” he says.

At some point, Contreras also wants to return to the academic world, but as a teacher rather than a student.

“I believe I could tribute to the formation and education of the next generation of geoscientists,” he says.

Find out more about the Master of Science (Mineral and Energy Economics).

Graduate snapshot

Name: Roberto Rodrigo Fréraut Contreras

Studied: Master of Science (Mineral Economics)

Related course: Master of Science (Mineral and Energy Economics)

Graduated: 2008

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