Mining continues to play a critical role in Chile’s economy, although it is decreasing as a percentage of exports due to gains in other economic sectors. Chile has some of the world’s largest known copper deposits and is the world’s leading producer of this metal. Copper is the leading export, accounting for more than 40 percent of all annual exports by value. The government owns and operates the giant copper company, CODELCO (Corporacíon Nacional del Cobre de Chile). About 5.4 million metric tons (metal content) were produced in 2004.
Petroleum and natural gas (first discovered in 1945) are extracted on Tierra del Fuego and in the Strait of Magellan. In 2004 Chile produced 2.2 million barrels of petroleum and 1 billion cu m (35 billion cu ft) of natural gas. Iron ore, with production of 5 million metric tons, is the country’s other leading mineral product. Chile also has large deposits of nitrates, zinc, sulfur, and coal, as well as silver, gold, manganese, and molybdenum.
The manufacturing sector (along with mining and construction) contributes 47 percent of Chile’s annual national output. Manufacturing is largely based on the refining and processing of the country’s mineral, agricultural, and forestry resources. Chile is a major South American producer of steel. Copper is also refined, and the several oil refineries use both domestic and imported petroleum. Other important manufactured goods include food products, cement, pulp and paper products, textiles (cotton, wool, and synthetics), tobacco products, glass, chemicals, refined sugar, and electronic equipment. The assembly of automobiles is also important. The bulk of the country’s manufacturing industry is located near Santiago and Valparaíso. Concepción is the other major industrial center. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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