Chile will continue to be the most attractive Latin American country to foreign mining investors, as mining investments in the country are expected to reach a value of about US$64 billion [$82 billion] by 2025, said state copper commission Cochilco.
Cochilco head Alex Matute Johns noted that Chile’s copper output is expected to jump up to around eight million tons per year by 2025. He also predicted that foreign investments would soar from US$23 billion last year to about US$28 billion by 2017. State-owned copper giant Codelco is expected to carry out 47 percent of Chile’s portfolio of planned mining investments.
But aside from copper, Chile is also a top producer of titanium, with the likes of White Mountain Titanium Corporation (OTCQB: WMTM) operating in northern Chile’s Atacama region. Its flagship Cerro Blanco project currently consists of 41 registered mining exploitation concessions and 34 mining exploration concessions over approximately 17,041 hectares of mineral sand. As of March 2015, nine prospects have been identified along a four-kilometre strike length, with an estimated rutile resource of 112 million tonnes at 1.73 percent titanium dioxide and 69 million tonnes at 1.37 percent titanium dioxide.
Another Chilean mining company, Mineria Activa, aims to develop Chile’s rare earth minerals market based on a recent survey that showed that there are major concentrations of neodymium and dysprosium south of Chile’s capital, Santiago. The company’s project, Biolantanidos, will dig out the clay, put it through a tank-leaching process with biodegradable chemicals and return it cleaned to the ground, replanting pine and eucalyptus trees.
Not only will this method put Chile in the market for rare earths, but it will also promote green mining. The country could give China a run for its money, since the latter currently monopolises 90 percent of the rare earth market.
Mineria Activa expects to start producing rare earth minerals by the end of 2016. The company also estimates that it can produce about 2,500 metric tonnes of rare earth concentrate per year at first and potentially 10,000 tonnes down the road.
But even though Chile’s mining fundamentals seem promising, the country is also facing numerous mining issues, such as lack of power, water shortages and environmental problems. Chile has also toughened up its environmental rules, placing sanctions on mining firms that committed infractions, like Canadian miners Lundin Mining Corporation and Barrick Gold Corporation. It also took White Mountain Titanium three years to finally receive its Environmental Impact Statement from the Chilean government.
The country is also not exempt from the commodity price slump that the rest of the world is experiencing, hence the expectations of lower copper revenues this year. But once the price of copper recovers, Chile will surely be one of the countries that would benefit from the bullish market.
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