On the way to La Serena I made a stop in Calama to pay a visit to Chuquicamata, the largest open cast coppermine in the world. With 8000 employees the annual output is around 50.000 tonnes/year. The pit has a depth of appr. 1 km.
From Calama a highway goes in a straight line to Chuquimata, 12 km away, easily recognisable by the hills surrounding it, consisting of deposits of the trucks from the inside of the earth. The mine is a 24 hours operation, with a significant importance to the Chilean economy.
The village surrounding the mine is being closed due to the need for the extraction of ore underneath its's surface and the pollution hazards.
Unfortunately I was not able to enter the mine, excursions only possible on weekdays, but I did get a feel for the atmosphere of this town being abandoned with roads being closed, the hospital fenced off, and the entrance of the nightclub derelict.