Chile - Country Commercial Guide
Mining

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-01-25

Overview

Chile is the top copper producer in world with 28 percent of global copper production and the world’s second largest producer of lithium with a 22 percent share of world production. In 2020, the sector produced 5.73 million tons of copper and 70 thousand tons of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE) in 2019. Chile’s world copper market share is 28 percent and lithium production market share is 23 percent. The mining sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP was 11 percent and represented over half of the country’s total exports and remains a key sector of Chile’s economy.

The copper mining project pipeline remains active but a new tax proposal that will index the tax rate to the price of copper and the ore grade (under 0.7 percent) may result in investment uncertainty for new or greenfield projects and increased operational efficiencies for continued operations or brownfield projects. The estimated price of copper for 2021 will be $4.3 per pound.

The U.S. supplies over 25 percent of parts and equipment to the sector and enjoys a reputation for quality and service. Export opportunities will remain for those companies offering products and services that bring operational cost reductions, improved productivity, and more efficient use of energy, water, and cleaner and safer processes.

Chilean copper mines are 72 percent owned and operated by private mining companies. The remaining 28 percent is state owned and operated by Codelco. Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona and Albemarle Corporation of Charlotte, North Carolina are two major U.S. investor companies operating in the market. Canadian, Australian, European, and Asian companies are also present in Chile.

Chile currently holds over 50 percent of the world’s lithium reserves.  This combined with the demand coming from the electric vehicle industry will make this resource the focus of international investors and developers. There are two large companies active in the industry: Soquimich S.A. (SQM) in association with Tianqui who owns 24 percent of SQM, and Albemarle Chile Ltda.  Chile is also the number one producer of iodine, rhenium and sodium, and potassium nitrate.

Total Market Size

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 estimate

Total Chile Imports

3,117

3,003

1,991

2,500

Imports from the United States

457

511

504

510

U.S. Share of Imports

15%

17%

25%

20%

Units: US$ million

Source: Thomson Reuters Checkpoint/Chilean Customs (HTS 8207, 8425, 8426, 8428, 8429,8430, 8474, 8704, 4011)

Leading Sub-Sectors

Promising sub-sectors include:

  • Off Road Transportation parts & equipment: Bulldozers, scrappers, and trucks, 360o revolving excavators
  • Crushers; Grinders and parts for rock cutters
  • Cranes and screening machines
  • Underground mining technology equipment and services
  • Desalination plants, equipment and parts, and monitoring technology
  • Air pollution abatement technology and services
  • Tailing pond monitoring technology and services
  • Carbon footprint reduction services and technology
  • Personal Safety Equipment

Opportunities

For the 2020-2024 period, large mining investment projects under execution total $24 billion. Over half of the investment will be spent by state owned Codelco in development projects. The remaining investment is being undertaken by private mining companies including the Minera Los Pelambres expansion by Antofagasta Minerals. BHP Billiton is expanding Minera Spence, and Doña Inés de Collahuasi is increasing its current production by 170 Ktpd. 

Resources

  • EXPOMIN, Santiago, Chile

Expomin is the world’s largest mining trade show outside of the U.S. In 2018, global attendance was over 1,350 exhibitors. The U.S. Pavilion featured around 100 exhibitors. Expomin 2021 organizer are planning to hold a hybrid, virtual and in-person, event.

  • EXPONOR, June 20-23, 2022, Antofagasta, Chile

Exponor is Chile’s second largest mining trade show. The U.S Pavilion features about 70

exhibitors.

 

· Ministry of Mining (MINIMINERIA)

· Chilean Chamber of Mines (SONAMI)

· Consejo Minero (Mining Council)

· Chilean Copper Commission (COCHILCO)

For more information about opportunities in this sector contact U.S. Commercial Service Industry Specialist: Marcelo Orellana