Chile is world’s largest copper producer with world-class mining infrastructures and operations technologies. Although the price of copper experienced a continuous decline during 2013 to 2015 period, which led to corporate cost-cutting and dampened investment in the metal industry, it seems to have little impact on Chile’s copper industry, according to the export and import data. There is no doubt that the mining sector plays an important role in Chile’s economy and will keep growth in the future. Such positive forecast could also be found in Chile mineral report, “Industry capital outlay projections in the copper mining sector for the period 2017-2024 are expected to reach US$25 to 30 billion.”
Chile’ export commodities include: copper, chemicals, agricultural products, machinery and equipment. Among these, the economy of Chile is mainly dependent on copper exports, which accounts for 49% of total exports. OCE statistics shows that the top export destinations of Chile are China ($17.1B), the United States ($8.44B), Japan ($5.16B), South Korea ($4.11B) and Brazil ($2.96B). The abundant shortage in metal resources and the high demand of copper products make China the largest copper import country from Chile. In face of the fast development of electrical vehicle industry, the copper demand from China are expected to see a substantial increase in the coming years. Aurora Williams, the Mining Minister of Chile has also said, “Higher demand from China and the electric vehicle industry will be key determinants of copper demand.”
Although the fall of the copper price over the past few years had restrained investors’ enthusiasm to input more in copper industry, the copper price has been picked up since last year, hitting a three-year high, with the market confidence remarkably recovered and the investment in the global copper mining industry regained. In this context, Chile, as the globally largest copper provider, has been looking for more mineral resources. Recently, Williams said in an interview that “Chile, which produced more than a quarter of the world’s copper last year, has the potential to boost output another 20 percent in the next 10 years if the projects in its investment pipeline go ahead.” In addition, according Williams, although mining companies’ cost-cutting brought more benefits in the face of rising prices during the downturn, the primary focus should be on productivity maintenance. Williams pointed out the rose of copper price may result in the decrease of productivity and the increase of the cost, therefore, the next phase should focus on innovation and new technology revolution.