Sociedad Química y Minera
|Traded as||BCS: SQM-A, SQM-B
|Industry||Chemicals & Mining|
|Founded||June 11th, 1968|
|Eugenio Ponce Lerou, (Chairman)
Patricio de Solminihac (CEO)
Specialty Plant Nutrition
|Revenue||US$ 2.4 billion (2012)|
|US$ 649.2 million (2012)|
Number of employees
SQM's natural resources and its main production facilities are located in the Atacama Desert between Chile's I and II regions.
SQM was founded in 1968 to reorganize the Chilean nitrate industry. In the course of the first phase the ownership was shared between the Chilean State and the Compañía Nitratera Anglo Lautaro S.A. During the second phase the industry was nationalised and was thus fully owned by the Chilean State. Finally in 1983 the process of privatisation started and was successfully completed in 1988.
Maria Elena – Tocopilla railway
To transport nitrates from its mines to the port, SQM operates a 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge railway from María Elena to Tocopilla. The railway consists of two sections; a diesel line to Barriles (parts of which were once electrified), and an electrified line down to Tocopilla, which is very steep at around 4%, and includes a switchback (locomotives are run around the train). All trains change locomotives at Barriles. Per year, the railway transports 1.1 million tons of finished product to the port of Tocopilla and 12 million tons of caliche ore from various mining sites to the Pedro de Valdivia plant.
In August 2015 unprecedented flash flooding caused numerous washouts on the electric portion of the railroad, most notably the area around the switchback on the escarpment leading down to the port at Tocopilla. As a result of this, along with the closure of the Pedro Valdivia mine/plant, the railroad ceased all operations, both electric and diesel in late November 2015. All railroad staff were terminated and all railroad equipment is stored at Tocopilla and Maria Elena awaiting possible sale or ultimately scrapping. The end of a historic railway. Trucks are now hauling product from Maria Elena/Coya Sur plants to the port.