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Minera Escondida Copper Mine
Minera Escondida, which means 'hidden' in Spanish, is a mining company that operates two open pit copper mines in the Atacama Desert, 170 km southeast of Antofagasta in northern Chile. It is currently the highest producing copper mine in the world. 2007 production of 1.483 million tons of the metal was worth US$ 10.12 billion, mainly as metal in concentrate but some as cathode, and was 9.5% of world output and 26% of Chilean production, according to the US Geological Survey's preliminary estimates of 2007 world mine output.
Escondida produces mainly copper concentrates, which are piped as a slurry down to the port of Coloso where they are dewatered before shipping, and a smaller proportion of cathode copper from the leaching of both oxide and low grade sulfide ore. It also produces gold and silver.
The mine is owned 57.5% by BHP Billiton, 30% by Rio Tinto, 10% by JECO, a Japanese consortium headed by Mitsubishi and 2.5% by the International Finance Corp (IFC), a World Bank subsidiary.
operations began in 1990, and since
October 2005 the Company also operates Escondida
Norte, which is a second open pit
located 5 km from the main pit.
Minera Escondida produces copper
concentrate by means of the sulphide ore
flotation process, and also produces
copper cathodes using the oxide ore
leaching and low-grade sulphide
bio-leaching processes. The Company
moves around 360 million tonnes of
mineral annually. Source: