Demand for copper in value-added products continues to grow, not simply as a raw material. This is demonstrated by exports of sanitary supplies containing copper, which almost tripled in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to data collected by ProChile and the Mining Ministry.
The Minister for Energy and Mining Juan Carlos Jobet explained that this explosive increase is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government’s campaign to publicize the many uses of copper and non-traditional copper exports, through ProChile and the Mining Ministry.
"Copper has been helping to deal with this pandemic, because of its biocidal properties. It also created an opportunity for Chilean entrepreneurs who began to incorporate it into innovative new products that are now in demand in various parts of the world," the Minister said.
This is demonstrated by the growth of exports of copper products every year and currently 12 SMEs are shipping such products. Sales have increased from US$ 344,701 in 2019 to US$ 937,193 last year, which represents an increase of 171.8%. In comparison, exports barely reached US$ 238,270 in 2017 and US$ 292,008 in 2018.
ProChile General Director Lorena Sepúlveda highlighted that "our objective was to position Chilean companies producing nanocopper products as reliable suppliers, due to their advanced knowledge and technological development. This added value and innovation has attracted worldwide interest and ProChile is committed to internationalizing these achievements, as they diversify and add value to our exports."
Demand is greatest for textile products such as face masks containing copper, sanitization supplies using copper nanoparticles that can treat large surfaces, and healthcare and cosmetic products such as alcohol gel.
These Chilean innovations reached the following 18 countries in 2020: China, Canada, Peru, Brazil, United States, Spain, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Germany, Belgium, Japan and Turkey. A Chilean company has also been sanitizing public buildings and facilities in Dubai using these products.
Cunov: Adhesive sheets with copper for handles and switches.
Nano Process: Surface cleaner with copper nanoparticles.
Copper Andino: Textiles, construction, clothing and veterinary, sporting, office, home, medical and industrial supplies.
Copper 3D: 3D printing using copper.
Kimba Group: Pet textiles using copper
CopperProtek: Plastic polymers and resins with copper biocides.
Industrial Nano: Chemical industrial additives.
Arens: Dermo-cosmetics and sanitizers using copper
Bacuplast: MCu respirator that protects people against viruses, bacteria and fungi, especially when used in infected environments, due to its antimicrobial additive based on copper and nanotechnology.
Unibag: Face masks.
Aintech: Quaternary ammonium using copper, and alcohol spray using copper nanoparticles.
The Copper Company: Face masks using copper.