Chile turning mines into tourist attractions

Chile turning mines into tourist attractions

Chuquicamata is the world’s largest open pit copper mine and one of the main attractions on the Mining Tourist Route, to be launched in 2015. Courtesy of Codelco via Flickr.

Chile’s traditional tourist attractions, which include the driest desert in the world, spectacular scenery of glaciers and fjords close to Patagonia, wineries, and the many volcanoes along the Pacific “ring of fire,” are about to get serious competition from the copper industry.

Beginning next year the world’s No.1 copper producing country will open 24 of its most famous mines to visitors, in what will be called the “Mining Tourism Route.”

Created by the Antofagasta Regional Branch of the National Tourism Service (Sernatur) in collaboration with mining companies and local authorities, the tour will focused on the northern region of Antofagasta, home to 19 large operations, 20 medium-sized, 540 small mines and 100 micro-mines, which collectively extract 53% of Chile’s total copper production.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the work we are doing to everyone who visits us,” Claudio Olguín, manager of Codelco’s Ministro Hales mine told

Currently, the only way of visiting an operational mine is by requesting a private tour.

In addition to the mines, tourists will be taken to the Mining Museum in the city of Calama, about 18 km south of Chuquicamata. They will also be able to expand the visit in the area by touring the nearby towns of Mejillones, Sierra Gorda and San Pedro de Atacama, as well as the country’s largest flamingo reserve.

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