El Laco

04 | 01 | 2013


The El Laco mine in the Atacama Desert in Chile – Mining at 5.500m

Located in the north of Chile, there does exist a very rare type of iron deposit. Only view localities in the world have the same build up. It’s an old volcano whose magma consists of pure iron ore. The cold volcanic flows are completely out of Magnetite.

The locality is called El Laco and is located deep in the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile. On an altitude of 5.500m up to 5.800m in a moon like scenery the mining activities take place. It’s a matter of fact, that mining on such an altitude is a real challenge!

We had the possibility to visit this deposit two times. In 2004 there were only a few diggings for exploration and a small open pit mine. At our second during a tour in the Atacama Desert the mining developed and there are now a small camp and several small mines.

In the ore bodies you can find smaller pockets whose walls are covered with magnetite crystals. The crystals are arranged in dense coatings with individuals between 0,5 and 2,0 cm. As most of the surfaces are quite corroded, crystals with god lustre are quite rare.

Due to the fantastic surrounding, El Laco is a very special deposit and worth every visit. The altitude in combination with an impressive landscape makes this place definitely unique and a trip to the mine a very special experience

Fotos / Credits
Matthias Benz / Germany

Autor / Author
Matthias Benz / Germany