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Escondida Copper Mine, Chile

April 6th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Escondida (Spanish "hidden") mine is the copper open-pit mine with the largest production in the world, representing 8 percent of all world production located in the Atacama Desert of Chile, nearly 160 kilometers southeast of Antofagasta.

Escondida produces copper concentrate, by means of a flotation process of sulphide ore, and copper cathodes, using a leaching process of oxide ore. All of the ore is extracted from the open pit mine, which moves approximately 350 million tons of material per year.

Construction of the mine started in August 1988, and the first batch of ore was processed in November 1990. After successive phases of expansion, total investment in Escondida since that time has been approximately US$ 4 billion. Between 1990 and 2002, annual income tax paid to the Chilean government averaged US$ 140 million.

To Chile, the sale of copper is equal to approximately 40 percent of its exports and about 9 percent of its Gross Domestic Product. Escondida's production of copper is equal to 20 percent of total copper production in Chile, providing direct work for more than 2,300 people, and another 1,900 permanent jobs through contractor companies, plus more than 8,000 additional permanent jobs in various productive activities, especially in the Second Region. This explains the vitally important role that Minera Escondida plays in the Chilean economy, accounting for 2.5 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

The infrastructure of the company consists of the open pit mine, two concentrator plants, an oxide plant for cathode production (SX-EW), two pulp ducts to transport copper concentrate to the port of Coloso, where there is a filtering plant and port facilities where the product is shipped to its final destination.

Some of the largest natural resources companies own Escondida like BHP Billiton (57.5 percent); Rio Tinto PLC (30 per cent); Jeco Corporation, a Japanese holding lead by Mitsubishi Corporation (10 percent); and International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank subsidiary (2.5 percent).

[Source: Wikipedia]

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