Chuquicamata

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Chuquicamata

(cho͞o'kēkämä`tä), former town, Antofagasta region, N Chile, on the western slopes of the Andes. At an elevation of 10,435 ft (3,181 m), the location is the site of the world's largest copper mines. The extensive open-pit mining of the region dates to 1915. Smelting and flotation plants began operations in 1951; an expansion of refining plants in 1970 substantially increased copper output. In 2003, due to the expansion of the mine and environmental problems, the town was evacuated and its buildings removed; many residents moved to nearby Calama.

Chuquicamata

 

a city in northern Chile, in Antofagasta Province. Population, 28,800 (1966). Chuquicamata is situated at an elevation of approximately 3,000 m. It has a railroad station. Copper ores are mined and dressed and copper is smelted in the city.


Chuquicamata

 

the world’s largest copper deposit, located in northern Chile, in the Central Andes at an elevation of 2,840 m, 240 km northeast of the city of Antofagasta. The total geological reserves of commercial ores are estimated at about 900 million tons, with an average copper content of 0.99 percent (1978). Chuquicamata, a hydrothermal deposit of porphyry copper, is confined to a large meridional intrusion (20 km long and 3 to 4 km wide) of porphyritic monzonite. The commercial ores connected with the thick (more than 300 m) zone of oxidation form a steep stockwork that is 0.8 km wide and about 3 km long.

Three submeridional zones are distinguished in the Chuquicamata deposit: the western, the central, and the eastern zones. The western zone, which consists of copper-molybdenum ores, is 100 to 200 m wide and is the most intensively mineralized. It is composed of quartz-sericite rocks and quartzites; metalliferous minerals are represented (in addition to oxidized minerals) by pyrite, chalcocite, enargite, molybdenum, and chalcopyrite. The central zone, which consists of copper ores, is characterized by intensive kaolinization of porphyries and the development of chalcopyrite-chalcocite ores. The eastern zone consists of complex ores. The rocks are chloritized, and chalcopyrite is developed. Bornite, sphalerite, and galena are found less often.

The Chuquicamata deposit has been worked since 1915. By 1952, 4.6 million tons of copper had been extracted; 420,000 tons were mined in 1974.

V. I. STAROSTIN

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