Chile’s angry copper giant

The Economist’s blog on the Americas has a good summary of the dispute between two titans of the mining world–Chile’s state copper corporation Codelco (the world’s largest copper producer) and Anglo American plc (the world’s largest platinum producer).  Way back in 1978 the two companies signed a contract giving Codelco the option of buying up to 49 percent of Anglo American’s Sur project northeast of Santiago.  Codelco officials now want to exercise this option, using a price formula that Anglo officials says does not take into account the value of new mineral deposits recently discovered at the site.

Anglo American negotiated a deal with Mitsubishi to buy 24.5 percent of the project for almost double the price Codelco wants to pay for its 49 percent share.  Codelco officials are outraged, with one negotiator calling his Anglo American counterparts “English imperialists” who view Chile as something like Africa. The Chilean investigative journalism site CIPER has the following interview with Codelco’s Juan Villarzu: