Mining was responsible for 14.2% of Chile’s GDP in 2012 and nearly 57% of exports were concentrated in this industry. It is present in 13 of the 15 regions of the country, and extracts 25 different products.
Mining is the economic engine of Chile. Its origins in the current Chilean territory date back to excavations made between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago in an iron ore mine in Taltal in the Antofagasta Region, the oldest in the continent. Centuries later, the successive exploitation of coal in the South, silver in Chañarcillo and nitrate in the North brought mining to play a pivotal role in the country’s economy.
Mining was responsible for 14.2% of Chile’s GDP in 2012 and nearly 57% of exports were concentrated in this industry. It is present in 13 of the 15 regions of the country, and extracts 25 different products. It is the main economic activity in the regions of Tarapaca, Antofagasta and Atacama and is of great importance in the Coquimbo, Valparaiso and O’Higgins regions. In the Magallanes Region, the exploitation of oil fields is of utmost importance for the national supply.
The main commercial product of the mining is copper, popularly known as ‘the income of Chile’. The country is the largest producer of copper in the world, satisfying the 36% of the world market. it is also the world’s largest producer of lithium, iodine and has 28% of the world’s reserves of copper. Copper mining accounts for 30% of Chilean exports – once accounting for more than 60% in 1970. The state-owned Codelco (1976), the largest copper company on the planet, rune the primary mining sites in Chile — Chuquicamata and El Teniente, the biggest open pit and underground mines in the world, respectively.
The mining of other resources – such as iron, molybdenum, nitrate, gold and silver – is also important. In addition, Chile has 39% of the South American reserves of lithium. In 2010, 42% of the world production of this mineral was concentrated in the country.