Largest copper mines in Chile – May 2020

In May 2020, Chile increased copper production by 1% over May 2019. Codelco’s output rose 3%.

Despite COVID-19 challenges, May 2020 copper production in Chile rose by 1% y-o-y to 492,500 tonnes.

Chile’s Codelco, the world’s largest copper mining company, boosted its production of copper in May versus the previous year even as the coronavirus outbreak exploded in the South American nation, according to data released by the state copper agency. Production at Codelco rose 3% year-on-year to 144,200 tonnes.

BHP’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, however, saw production in May fall 6% to 93,400 tonnes, the agency said.

The world’s second biggest Collahuasi copper mine, a joint venture between Anglo American Plc and Glencore, saw its May production jumped by impressive 40% over 2019 to 60,100 tonnes.

Third-largest Codelco’s El Teniente mine produced 37,700 tonnes of copper in May, an insignificant 1% decline y-o-y.

Another Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine saw a 11% increase y-o-y and sits fourth with 35,000 tonnes of copper mined in May.

Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres mine is fifth with 35,000 tonnes of copper produced in May 2020, a 9% growth year-over-year.

The complete list is below.

Largest Copper Mines in Chile – May 2020

Chilean Copper Mine Production, ktonnesMay-19Apr-20May-20May-20 / May-19 Change, %
1Escondida98.9102.693.4-6
2Collahuasi43.054.160.140
3El Teniente38.236.637.7-1
4Chuquicamata 31.430.435.011
5Los Pelambres32.131.235.09
6Anglo American Sur34.328.433.2-3
7Radomiro Tomic21.920.519.3-12
8Andina14.112.316.517
9Caserones13.310.113.73
10Sierra Gorda10.010.913.737
11Spence15.215.512.6-17
12Ministro Hales13.910.112.5-10
13Centinela (Sulfides)22.011.111.0-50
14Candelaria9.47.810.714
15Zaldívar10.08.48.4-16
Other mines80.180.679.70
Total Chile487.8470.6492.51

1. Escondida.

Escondida copper mine. Source: BHP

Named after the Spanish for ‘hidden’, Escondida is a copper mine located Atacama Desert in Northern Chile and is the world’s largest copper mine by output. Open since 1990, it is one of the deepest open-pit mines in the world. Escondida is majority owned and managed by BHP (57.5%), with Rio Tinto (30%) and Japan Escondida (12.5%) the other joint owners. The mine accounts for about 6% of global copper production.

2. Collahuasi.

Collahuasi mine. Source: Collahuasi

Collahuasi, the second-largest copper operation in Chile and around the globe, is jointly owned by Anglo American (44%), Glencore (44%) and Mitsui (12%). The mine is located at high altitude — between 3,000 and 5,000 metres above sea level. Most of the concentrate produced at Collahuasi is sold to smelters in China for further refining.

3. El Teniente.

El Teniente operation. Photo by Codelco.

El Teniente is currently the world’s largest underground copper mine and one of the largest by reserve size. It is located about 2,300 metres above sea level in the Andes of central Chile. Chilean state copper miner Codelco, which owns and operates El Teniente, plans to boost production at the mine to more than 500,000 tonnes per year by 2025.

4. Chuquicamata.

Chuqui copper mine. Source: Codelco

Chuquicamata, one of the largest open pit copper mines and the second deepest open-pit mine in the world, is located 1,650km north of Santiago, Chile. The mine, popularly known as Chuqui, has been operating since 1910. The century-old copper mine is owned and operated by Codelco and forms part of the company’s Codelco Norte division, which includes the Radomiro Tomic (RT) mine found on the same mineralised system.

5. Los Pelambres.

Los Pelambres copper mine. Source: Antofagasta.

Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres is a copper mine in Chile’s Coquimbo region, 240 km north-east of Santiago. It produces copper concentrate (containing gold and silver) and molybdenum concentrate through a milling and flotation process.

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