From Chile’s sodium nitrate boom of the 19th Century to its position today as the world’s largest producer of copper (28% share) and second largest producer of lithium (22% share), Chile’s mining sector has, quite literally, always been the bedrock of its economy.
The sector’s contribution to GDP is 11% and today represents over 50% of the total exports, which in 2020 amounted to more than 37.5 billion U.S. dollars. Mining also accounts for 25% of investment received in Chile. Today the industry is focused on sustaining operations in a complicated environment, characterised by political and economic uncertainty.
On one hand mining is seen as a dirty industry that needs to clean up its act. In 2018 it contributed over 7% of the national ghg emissions. On the other it is known to be critical to the development of technology and equipment necessary for the rapidly growing clean growth economy. The use of copper, gold and lithium in the production of batteries and other components for electric vehicles is paramount.