Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (CODELCO) and its mining and smelting operations
Chile is now the world's major copper-producing country. The South American nation has the world's most productive copper deposits and is the unchallenged leader in copper production and exports. Chile's copper reserves are estimated at almost 200 million tonnes, corresponding to about 30% of known world copper reserves. Most of the copper deposits are located in the extremely arid Atacama Desert in the North of Chile, although there are also scattered deposits to the South of the Chilean capital Santiago.
Chile's share in world copper production grew from 14.4% in 1950 to 23.5% in 1994. A year later, Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (CODELCO), the state copper corporation, accounted for 47% of copper production in Chile. Since then, copper production in Chile has continuously expanded, reaching 30% of world production (30.32%) for the first time in 1998. Currently, Chile has a share of 35% in world production. The article outlines the history, current status and development prospects of CODELCO's most important mining and smelting operations.