Chile's National Mining Society (Sonami) estimates the country's mining sector will grow 1% this year, Sonami president Hernan Hochschild told reporters yesterday.
The figure is down from the 2% growth forecast at the end of 2000. Lower international prices for metals have forced the revision, and Sonami is now predicting copper's 2001 average price will be between US$0.85-0.90/lb, gold between US$265-270/oz and silver $4.50-5.00/oz, Hochschild said.
The organization predicts Chile will produce 4.65Mt of fine copper, 47,000kg gold and 1.15M kg silver.
Considering the estimated prices and production levels, Sonami forecasts Chile's mineral exports will bring in US$9bn in 2001, a 7% increase over 2000's returns.
Mining investment this year is tipped to rise to the annual peak achieved in the 1990s at around US$1.5bn, chiefly thanks to Escondida's phase IV expansion, which, when commissioned next year, should permit the world's biggest copper mine to exceed 1Mt of fine copper output.