Antofagasta: Before the copper, there was silver

ANTOFAGASTA – Tourists visiting Chile for the first time often think it’s a stereotypical Latin American country. They don’t know the country’s intriguing development, especially about the particularities of the mining industry. Dozens of American, British, and Australian companies started investing in Chile’s mining, particularly in the north. Most of them extract copper from the heart of the desert of the second region, that is Antofagasta region, which is the biggest copper producer in the world.

Centuries ago, the Antofagasta region didn’t have the cities it has nowadays. However, mining companies built settlements and camps for the workers coming all the way from other regions. Most of the settlements and the camps are now ruins travelers can see on both sides of the road.

The biggest settlement is called the Chuquicamata settlement, where workers and their families came to live. Around 15km north of Calama city and with 25,000 inhabitants, Chuquicamata settlement opened two years after the opening of the Chiquicamata copper mine, the biggest open-pit mine in the world.

Copper production, which rose in the fourth quarter of 2018, didn’t start recently, but decades ago. Before that however, Antofagasta produced silver, with lots of smelters across the region.

Read also:

‘Chuqui’ Goes Underground for Second Act

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