$20bn poured into gold projects in Chile by 2020

With nearly 6 million tonnes mined each year, Chile is the world’s chief copper producer.

Now, it turns out the country could someday become a leader in gold production as well, giving its neighbour, Peru, a run for its money.

According to United States Geological Survey, Chile is fourth in the world in terms of untapped gold reserves, after Russia and ahead of the United States, but barely makes the top 20 in terms of gold production.

Chilean business newspaper Estrategia reports foreign investments in gold projects in Chile are estimated to reach $20 billion by 2020.

According to the government copper commission Cochilco, around $10 billion will be invested between 2013 and 2015. By 2016, investments in the sector will represent 19% of total mining investments.

Gold mining's major players including Barrick Gold with its controversial Pascua-Lama project straddling Chile's border with Argentina, Goldcorp with its massive El Morro copper-gold project and new projects by Kinross – its existing mines in the Atacama Region already account for about 25% of total gold production – will have made investments totalling $18.5 billion by 2020.

Yamana – the company hopes to reopen a historic mine in the Atacama region – Exeter, Orosur Mining, and the Chilean state-owned Codelco are also advancing projects in the South American nation.

Image of Mapuche Indians, an ethnic minority in Chile comprising less than 4% of the population, perform native music at Plaza del Armas on November 2, 2012 in Santiago, Chile by bumihills / Shutterstock.com.