Chile has over a third of all the copper reserves in the world. This abundance of copper has turned it into Chile’s major export, far outpacing other agriculture products.
Where is Chile’s Copper?
Copper has been mined in northern Chile since before pre-colonial times and before Chile was even a country. The mineral-rich northern territory of Chile was won from Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific in the late 1800’s.
The northern Atacama desert is home to some of the world’s largest copper mines like Chuquicamata. Although northern Chile has the majority of Chile’s copper mines, the large El Teniente mine is found in central Chile, south of Santiago.
Nationalized Chilean Copper
During Chilean president Salvador Allende’s rule, Chile nationalized the nation’s copper mines and formed the National Copper Corporation of Chile (CODELCO).
The state-owned firm CODELCO is the world’s largest copper-producing company, with recorded copper reserves of 200 years. This means that Chile has enough copper to mine for 200 more years.
Economic Impact of Copper
Since Chile’s copper mining is nationalized, the profits and dividends from copper production go to benefit the state.
Due to copper’s dominance as Chile’s primary export, the country’s economy follows a boom-and-bust cycle that varies with the price of copper on the world market.
Recent boom times with high copper prices pulled in large surpluses for the Chilean government. They wisely saved a lot of this money that they are now using to pay for economic stimulus during recessionary times.
Chile is very fortunate to have such immense reserves of copper. Copper has been a key metal for ages and with although it is highly recycled, copper usage will expand in the future due to exploitation of copper’s green building attributes and copper’s antimicrobial properties. Chile will profit greatly by supplying much of this demand and would be wise to invest heavily in new technologies and industries when the “copper rush” slows down and recycled copper is fulfilling most of the demand.
elli Meyer says
As a south African we had disasters in our mines throughout centuries, sometimes they lost their lives,but when they arrive from underground and are safe, we rejoice in the LORD for JESUS rules all over the world and all the mines. That is why the Chilean trapped miners are brought to safety by HIS grace, because he loves them so much
Tell the miners we love them too in Sout Africa.