Innovation in Resource-Based Technology Clusters: Investigating the Lateral Migration Thesis – Cleaning pollution: from mining to environmental remediation

by KURAMOTO, J. & SAGASTI, F., 2006
Research Report, Employment Growth & Development Initiative, Human Sciences Research Council

Kuramoto & Sagasti offer a case study of lateral migration of technology from resource sectors in Peru. They examine the main features of bioleaching as a cost-effective alternative to the conventional methods for processing ores, and describes the initial efforts made during the 1970s to acquire technological capabilities in this field and how these capabilities have evolved over time, placing emphasis on the absorptive capacity of mining firms operating in Peru. The Tamboraque project, run by Mineral Lizandro Proaño S.A. (MLPSA), is used as a case study to show the way in which these capabilities were acquired, and partially lost, before indicating how some elements of technological capabilities remained dormant and were displaced to other organizations. Even with these constraints, a process of ‘lateral migration’ of these technological capabilities took place, which later re-emerged in the field of bio-remediation technology. However, the paper also indicates the incipient state of the Peruvian mining innovation system did not facilitate either the consolidation of bioleaching capabilities in the country, nor facilitated this process of lateral migration that took place largely through individual efforts. This suggests that there are opportunities to expand the role of public policies to strengthen the mining innovation system, to consolidate technological capabilities and to expand these capabilities to other sectors and uses.