Copper industry

Chile mining sector projects investment of US$100 billion by 2020

As commodity prices soar and mining companies scramble to boost their holdings, projected investment levels hit historic highs.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012 Category: Business
Image courtesy of Codelco Image courtesy of Codelco

Projected investment in Chile’s mining sector for the next eight years has been raised again, just a month after government officials predicted an amount between US$67 and 91.5 billion for the period.  


That figure, which represented an increase of 37 percent from the government’s last biannual projection, was hailed as a reflection of historic investor confidence and an indication of further development in one of Latin America’s most prosperous economies.


“This increase of 37 percent for the next eight-year period clearly reflects the confidence that investors have in Chile and will mean more opportunities for the well-being of the population, because mining is the motor of national development,” Chile’s Mining Minister Hernán de Solminihac said.


Now, the country’s national mining society, Sonami, has raised those projections significantly.


Sonami’s figures, released on Monday, project an unprecedented US$100 billion of investment in the mining sector from now until 2020.


The industry body raised its estimate from its previous expectation of $80 billion investments for the period of 2011 to 2018.


This progressive upping of the ante has been propelled by a scramble among the big players in the private sector to boost holdings, as commodity prices continue to rise.


Indeed, Sonami estimates that over three quarters of its US$100 billion dollar will come from the private sector.  


The state-owned Codelco, the world's top copper-producing company, will also account for a significant proportion of that investment, with several key projects valued at around US$17 billion as part of a long-term investment plan to boost output to more than 2.1 million tons by 2020.


Much of the surging interest in Chile’s mining sector comes as the country’s copper production capabilities have been upgraded from 5.2 million tons in 2011 to 7.5 million tons of copper annually within eight years.


Chile is the world’s leading copper mining country, and recent studies have shown that its copper reserves, which are the largest in the world, contain enough of the precious red metal to sustain production for a period of between 90 to 200 years.


The country also mines other metals such as molybdenum, gold and silver.

img_banner