As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, open-pit mining is a great way to extract minerals and ore from the earth, but it becomes less effective when you start exhausting materials relatively close to the surface. It is at this crucial point that entire industries must make a choice: move on to another open-pit opportunity, or start the more difficult, time consuming, and expensive process of underground mining. This very dilemma is currently playing out in the Chilean copper mining industry. For years, copper mining has been the #1 industry in Chile. In 2000, Chile produced 35% of the world’s mined copper and it accounted for 40.5% of their export earnings, which translated into 25% of their GDP. In 2006 alone, Chile exported $33.3 billion worth of copper. With copper being so critical to the health and survival of the Chilean economy, it is not surprising that their mining industry has begun a very ambitious underground mining project. The state-owned Corporacion del Cobre, the world’s largest copper producer, is planning to invest $3.28 billion in just one project to extend the working life of the world’s largest underground mine by 47 years.
Because it’s hard to imagine any kind of mining without Firwin’s outstanding insulation and safety products, we recently acquired a new distributor in Chile. By signing up with the experts at Ventas, Firwin hopes to gain a much larger foothold in the Chilean mining market. The timing couldn’t be better, and we hope that we will be able to help keep a future generation of Chilean miners safe and protected with our wide array of insulation products.