Chile - Country Commercial Guide

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

Last published date: 2022-09-30


Chile is the top copper producer in the 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 its 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.

Mining Equipment and Machinery

Chile is the top copper producer in the world with 29 percent of global copper production and the world’s second-largest producer of lithium with a 22 percent share of world production. Chile is also the number one producer of iodine, rhenium, and sodium, and potassium nitrate. In 2021, the sector produced 5.6 million tons of copper, a 1.9 percent drop from the previous year, and 162,500 tons of Lithium (LCE), a 30 percent increase relative to 2020. The mining sector contributed $317 billion or 15 percent of Chile’s GDP in 2021 and mining exports were over 62 percent of the country’s total exports, a figure not seen since 2010. The annual average copper price in 2021 was $4.23 per pound, the highest since 2011. The estimated price of copper for 2022 is $3.95 per pound.

Chilean copper mines are 72 percent owned and operated by private mining companies. The remaining 28 percent are state-owned and operated by Codelco. Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona and Albemarle Corporation of Charlotte, North Carolina are the two leading U.S. mining extraction 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. President Boric campaigned on the platform and is expected to release a plan for creating a state-run lithium company. The role of the private sector would have in the plan is uncertain.

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

The Chilean mining sector is investing in new technologies to become more sustainable and support the country’s climate change goals. Mining projects are incorporating desalination and renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprints. By 2023, the Chilean Consejo Minero estimates that 63 percent of electricity will come from clean energy sources. Water consumption in the mining sector is less than four percent of the total compared to 72 percent in the agricultural sector, and approximately three quarters of water is recirculated. Mining companies are also deploying automation and remote operations technologies to improve efficiency and safety.

In July 2022, the Chilean government released a tax reform bill that includes new mining royalties. The proposal is currently being debated in the Chilean legislature. According to Chile’s mining chamber, the proposal would increase the ad valorem tax, as measured by the volume of copper produced, and tax on income based on the per pound price. The immediate result has led to an increase in investment uncertainty for new or greenfield projects and greater efficiencies to lower operational costs for existing operations or brownfield projects.

Table: Total Market Size - Mining Sector







Total Chile Imports





Imports from the United States





U.S. Share of Imports





Units: US$ million

Source: Global Trade Atlas (HTS 8207, 8425, 8426, 8428, 8429,8430, 8474, 8704, 4011)

Leading Sub-Sectors

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


According to the Chilean Copper Commission (COCHILCO), during the 2018-2027 timeframe 25 brownfield projects are under consideration valued at $40.3 billion and 19 greenfield projects valued at $25.5 billion. Codelco will be responsible for half of the investment with the remaining investment expected to be undertaken by private mining companies.

Trade Shows

  • EXPOMIN, April 24-27, 2023, Santiago, Chile: Expomin is the world’s largest mining trade show outside of the U.S. At the last in-person gathering in 2018, global attendance was over 1,350 exhibitors. The U.S. Pavilion featured around 100 exhibitors.
  • EXPONOR, 2024 Dates TBD, Antofagasta, Chile: Exponor is Chile’s second largest mining trade show. The U.S Pavilion features about 70 exhibitors.


  • Ministry of Mining 
  • Sociedad Nacional de Minería Federación Gremial (National Mining Society, SONAMI)
  • Consejo Minero de Chile A.G. (Mining Council)
  • Comisión Chilena del Cobre (Chilean Copper Commission, COCHILCO)
  • Asociación de Proveedores Industriales de la Minería (Chilean mining suppliers’ association, APRIMIN)
  • Asociación de Industriales de Antofagasta A.G (Industrial Association of Antofagasta, AIA)
  • Camara Minera de Chile (Chilean Mining Chamber, CAMMIN)

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