Copper production in Chile

Chile is the country with the largest copper deposits in the world. The South American country has both porphyry copper deposits, which contain abundant gold and silver byproducts as well as molybdenum, and the world’s largest iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) deposits. The country’s copper production mainly takes place in the Atacama IOCG belt in northern Chile.

Record copper mines

Chile is still by far the most important country for copper mine production. In 2020 alone, the country’s numerous mines produced around 5.7 million tons of the all-important raw material. In Peru, the second largest copper producing country, less than half of Chile’s copper output has been produced.

Most of the mines are located in the Atacama IOCG belt in northern Chile. The largest producer in the country is Chilean state-owned Codelco, which alone produced 1.73 million tons of the total volume mined in 2020.

Codelco also operates two of the most important mines of record in the country. For example, the El Teniente mine is the largest underground copper mine in the world, while Chuquicamata is the second deepest copper mine in the world.

In addition to these two important mining sites, Chile is home to two of the world’s largest copper mines, Escondida and Collahuasi. The Escondida mine is operated by the British-Australian mining group Rio Tinto and a Japanese consortium of companies led by Mitsubishi. The Escondida mine, on the other hand, is owned by Anglo American, Glencore and Mitsui Collahuasi.

In addition, the Canadian mining group Lunding Mining and Sumitomo share the Candelaria complex in the Atacama belt. Another four mines on Chilean territory are also operated by the Chilean mining company Antofagasta.

Copper reserves and exploration projects

Chile can look back on a long mining history. Nevertheless, copper reserves still amount to around 200 million tons. This means that the country has the largest copper reserves in the world.

Experts even believe that further copper reserves can be discovered in Chile with the help of modern exploration techniques. Therefore, there are various promising exploration projects throughout the country, mainly using modern underground techniques.

The Australian company Bastion Minerals is carrying out a total of three of the most significant exploration projects in Chile, the Garin, Gometa and Capote projects. In the same region are the Zulema and Tierra de Oro projects, which are managed by Chilean Metals Exploration, and the Rosales project of Australia’s Golden Arrow Resources Corp.

The Vizachitas project is in the process of developing one of South America’s largest copper deposits, while the Hot Chili project has six of the world’s best copper-gold porphyry drill results, giving hope for promising production.

Some US$74 million in mining investment is planned over the next 10 years. Of this, 90 percent is to go into the exploration of copper. This means that Chile is likely to remain the most important producing country for copper in the future.




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