CHILE - A MINING COUNTRY
Chile is a country with vast mineral resources. It is a world leader in copper production and has one of the largest reserves of natural nitrates, lithium, and iodine. The country also holds a prominent place in the production of silver, gold, molybdenum, and other minerals. Chile is the leading copper producer in the world with exports totaling US$ 44 billion, which corresponds to 64% of the total exports in 2010.
The country hosts five out the ten most important copper mines in the world. The mining industry is mainly developed by companies extracting copper and gold, as well as the state-owned company Codelco.
During the five-year period from 2006 to 2010, the contribution from the mining sector to the country's GDP amounted to 19.4%, reaching 62.4% of the total exports and 24.7% of total public income. During the same period the contribution of both private and public mining to fiscal funds exceeded US$51 billion.
Today Chile is ranked as the first world country in mining potential according to a study from The Fraser Institute, Canada, which evaluates 79 areas and conducts surveys with managers and executives from 494 mining companies around the world. The mining GDP is expected to grow in 6% by 2012 due to a 400,000 metric tones increase in copper production. A significant growth will also take place in the production of gold, silver, iron, and molybdenum.
The mining activity also brings forth sound development in other industries while investments generate a boom for industry suppliers and vendors. The major world companies supplying goods and services to mining industry are present in the country. Nearly 4,000 supplier companies in different business areas and of different sizes have their operations in Chile.
The Region of Antofagasta is the principal mining center of the country amounting to 54% of the domestic copper production and to 100% of the domestic production of lithium carbonate, lithium chloride, lithium hydroxide, and potassium compounds. In 2010 the region's production amounted to 18% of the world’s fine-copper production, exceeding the combined production from Peru and China.
In the next few years, the Region of Antofagasta will continue to lead the mine copper production with 3,698,000 metric tons of fine copper by 2020.
Additionally, the Region is undergoing sound development with more port infrastructure, an increase in the smelting capacity of concentrate, the desalination of seawater, and an increase in the energy capacity.