SLIDESHOW: The giant copper pit Chile is betting the future on

SLIDESHOW: The giant copper pit Chile is betting the future on

Images courtesy of Codelco unless otherwise stated

Codelco dwarfs all the other players in the global copper industry.

The Chilean state-owned giant is responsible for 10% of the global supply of the red metal and the South American nation depends on the copper industry for almost a third of total revenues and 45% of export earnings.

But Codelco has recently been losing ground as reserves are depleted, output at its biggest mines Chuquicamata and Radomiro Tomic slump and costs soar.

Now the company is betting a project called Andina 244 to build one of the world's largest open pits high in the Andes will turn things around.

Codelco CEO Thomas Keller has called it "fundamental to the company's future" and by extension the Chilean economy as a whole.

Andina 244 is in the final stages of environmental approval, but is facing fierce opposition from environmentalists over its impact on water resources in the region.

Codelco says the project will inject $10 billion into the local economy during its first fifteen years, create 18,000 construction jobs and extend the life of the mine to 2085.

CLICK HERE for stunning pictures of the high Andes and more about the $7 billion project.