Energy and Extraction

Elements of logistics: Along the line of copper

Examining the conduits of production and circulation that link the extraction of copper in Chile to its storage and use in China, this article explores the political dimensions of the logistical techniques and technologies that enable these processes. We approach copper as a material element that due to its capacity to conduct electricity provides conditions of possibility for contemporary digital capitalism. At the same time, we consider the elements that constitute logistics as a political force by asking how logistics operates in parallel, partnership, and rivalry to forms of state and international order themselves in uncertain transformation. Empirically, the article stems from research conducted in Chile, specifically in the port of Valparaíso, the Andina mine run by the country’s state owned copper mining company CODELCO, and the copper smelter run by the same company on the coast at Ventanas. On this basis, we ask how the production and circulation of copper has mutated with shifting logistical arrangements that respond to the geopolitical position of China, the financialization of trade in base metals, the rise of business models based in data extraction, and workers’ struggles in times of labor precarization.

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Volume 37 Issue 5