Chile is the number one source of copper in the world, responsible for producing 35% of
world supply. For Chile, mining is 20% of GDP and represents 60% of the country’s exports.
In addition to copper, Chile is also a major world supplier of molybdenum, gold, and silver. Chile is also a relevant supplier of non metallic minerals such as iodine, lithium, sodium and potassium nitrate.
In 2011, the average price of copper was US$ 4/lb. Future contracts indicate that in 2012 copper prices will remain above US$ 3/lb during 2012. Projects are under development by the state-owned mining company, Codelco, and the private sector via companies such as AMSA, Xstrata, BHP Billiton and others.
Chile currently holds the largest proven reserves of lithium under exploitation. Due to Chile’s current world market share of 62%, along with the demand coming from the battery powered automotive industry, lithium will be the focus of international investors. Currently there are only two companies active in the industry: Soquimich S.A. (SQM) and Sociedad Chilena del Litio (SCL). However, the government announced in February 2012 plans to open additional lithium mining rights via an international tender model.
Over recent years, the mining industry has been investing not only in mining development and expansions, but in developing their own sources of energy. Mining companies are looking for renewable sources of energy in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint.
The U.S., with over a 40% market share, remains the single largest mining equipment supplier. Important export opportunities in this industry will continue for those companies offering technologies and products that bring cost reduction, improved productivity and more efficient and cleaner processes.
Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. out of Phoenix, Arizona is the only U.S. company mining company in the market. The major local mining players continue to be the
Canadians, Australians and some European companies.
Industry projections indicate that between 2012 and 2018, investments by the private and public sector will exceed $ 60 billion, and U.S. exporters will continue to supply to and public sector will exceed $ 60 billion, and U.S. exporters will continue to supply to