Chile’s SQM, or Society of Chemicals and Mining, increased its revenue by 27.2 percent in 2010, reaching a total income of US$1.83 billion, up from US$1.44 billion in 2009, according to the annual financial statistics assembled by the company for the Chilean Securities and Insurance Supervisor. After operations costs, this left the society with 13 percent growth in net earnings, up to US$382 million in 2010 from US$338 million in 2009. Though copper remains the most prominent mined material in the Chilean economy, chemical technologies are becoming increasingly central to industry growth.
Specialty plant nutrition took the largest sales for the company, surpassing US$600 million, a 14.6 percent growth over the US$526 million sold in 2009. Meanwhile, iodine and its derivatives saw the company’s largest growth, increasing 65.7 percent to US$316 million, up from US$190 million in 2009.
Lithium and its derivatives, a third major component product for the company, sold US$150 million in 2010, a 28 percent increase over US$117 million in 2009. Lithium profits, SQMC reports, reached this record high largely due to higher demand for rechargeable batteries designed for portable devices, despite the fact that prices for these products have actually dropped by 20 percent since 2009.
Potassium chloride and potassium sulfate combined reached US$528 million in 2010, a 32.2 percent increase, while industrial chemicals grew 30 percent to US$149 million.
The company continues to control 50 percent of the market for specialty plant nutrition, 36 percent for iodine and 26 percent for lithium. SQM has predicted more moderate growth for 2011 following a year of unprecedented growth in 2010 for a growing industry in Chile.