Isolated in Chile’s northern Atacama Desert, the open-pit Escondida Mine is the world’s largest source of copper.
Escondida means “hidden” in Spanish, and hidden it was. The copper ore was buried under hundreds of meters of rock. The only way it was found was by drilling along a line of other known copper finds that stretched hundreds of kilometers.
Copper represents a substantial part of Chile’s economy. In 2013, copper mine production was valued at just over $30 billion. Chile is the world’s leading producer of copper, accounting for nearly 32% of world copper production.
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Farfour, M., 2013, Chile’s copper production expected to increase: World View, v. 2, no. 13, p. 1.
NASA, 2010, Escondida Copper Mine, Atacama Desert, Chile: NASA Earth Observatory, available at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=43394. (Accessed April 11, 2013.)
Reuters, 2013, Escondida’s copper output on track: Business Report, available online at http://www.iol.co.za/business/international/escondida-s-copper-output-on-track-1.1497108. (Accessed April 11, 2013.)
Wacaster, S., 2015, 2013 Minerals Yearbook—Chile: U.S. Geological Survey, available at http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/sa.html#ci. (Accessed February 22, 2016.)
Wacaster, S., 2017, 2014 Minerals Yearbook—Chile: U.S. Geological Survey, accessed April 19, 2018, at http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/sa.html#ci.