Port Strike Stalls Copper Exports in Chile

An old Chilean bank note depicting copper mining.

An old Chilean bank note depicting copper mining.

Chile is the worlds largest producer of copper by far.

The next largest producer of copper, the United States, only manages 25% of Chile’s output.

All told, Chile produces a third of the world’s copper, and income from Chile’s nationalized mines have come to represent nearly a third of government revenue since President Salvador Allende completed the nationalization of the largest copper mines in the country during his presidency in the early 1970s.

And so, a stoppage of work that started more than two weeks ago at Chile’s Angamos port, has begun to seriously strain Chile’s export heavy economy.

The stoppage has spread in Chile’s northern ports which are estimated to handle approximately 60% of Chile’s copper exports, and has also affected mining, timber, wine, and fruit industries. It is estimated to have already held up 9000 tons of copper per day, out of the more than five million typically exported annually.

The Federation of Fruit producers has in Chile (Federación de Productores de Frutas), has suggested that losses due to the inability to get their goods to market may end up costing 100,000 to 300,000 jobs within their industry alone.

The state owned mining company, Codelco, indicated that it has already lost more than $500 million since the strike started due to an inability to get product to market.

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