38 sophomores and juniors visit Chilean copper mine

IMG_0532 copyMany people know that mining is a mainstay of the Chilean economy.

Not many have put on a headlamp and burrowed into a mountain to witness how the country’s nationalized mining company extracts copper.

On Monday, 38 sophomores and juniors in the Gabelli School’s Global Business Honors Program visited El Teniente, a copper-mining complex about an hour and a half’s drive from Santiago.

mine groupGlobal Business Honors Program students travel abroad three times during their college career to discover the business practices, cultures, and economic realities of countries in Europe, Asia, and South America. (They get to know a fourth continent just by virtue of studying full-time in the commercial capital of New York City.)

The mine trip offered an unusual glimpse into the beginning of a supply chain. Half of the Gabelli School group delved into the “Sub 6” portion of El Teniente, while the other half split off into a different tunnel toward the “Diablo Regimente” section.

In the Diablo Regimente mine, students met the supervisor of its crushing operation, mining engineer Ignacio Salinas, who explained the process and gave a tour of the control room.

control roomHe then led the group through a network of tunnels—lit mostly by their own headlamps—to see massive hydraulic hammers, scooping trucks with tires more than five feet in diameter, and a crushing machine where enormous grooved plates ground copper-laced rock into smaller pieces.

Once in a while, controlled dynamite explosions in another part of the mine would briefly shake the walls and floor.

The El Teniente mining operation produces copper that is used to make anodes. It is run by CODELCO, which is Chile’s state mining company.

Yet to come for the GBHP students on this week-long visit to Santiago: a boardroom session at Banco Estado, a meeting with the global networks director of Startup Chile, and an audience with an investments executive at CIE Chile.

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