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About Chuquicamata



Chuquicamata, or "Chuqui" as it is more familiarly known, is by excavated volume the biggest open pit copper mine in the world, located in the north of Chile, just outside of Calama, 215 km northeast of Antofagasta and 1,240 km north of the capital, Santiago. The mine is owned and operated by Codelco, a Chilean state enterprise, since the Chilean nationalization of copperin the late 1960s and early 1970s. Its depth of 850 metres (2,790 ft) makes it the second deepest open-pit mine in the world (after Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah, USA).

For many years it was the mine with the largest annual production in the world but was recently overtaken by Minera Escondida. Nevertheless it remains the mine with by far the largest total production of approximately 29 million tonnes of copper to the end of 2007 (excluding Radomiro Tomi?). Despite over 90 years of intensive exploitation it remains one of the largest known copper resources. Its open pit is the world's largest at 4.3 km long, 3 km wide and over 900 m deep  and its smelter and electrolytic refinery (855,000 tonnes p.a.) are amongst the world's largest. Chuquicamata is also a significant producer of molybdenum.

Chuquicamata is now amalgamated with the operating Radomiro Tomi? mine to the north (but still on the same mineralised system), the developing Alejandro Hales mine just to the south (formerly Mansa Mina, a slightly impolite description) and the recently discovered 'Toki cluster' of copper porphyries to form the Codelco Norte division of Codelco