Mining activity in Chile rose 1% in January compared to last January due to higher production of lithium carbonate and a slight increase in metal mining, the National Statistics Institute (INE) reported last week. The Chilean mining index was favored by the greater activity registered in two of the three types of mining that comprise it.

The greater production of lithium carbonate affected a strong expansion of non-metallic mining (22.7%), while metallic mining grew 0.2%. This was due to lower extraction and processing of copper, amid the uncertainty about the coronavirus that is impacting China, the world’s leading buyer of copper. With about a third of the global copper supply, Chile is the world’s leading producer of metal.

“China is our largest trading partner and buys more or less 50% of the copper we produce,” said Gonzalo Martner, an economist at the University of Santiago. “That will drop significantly due to the restrictive measures taken by the Chinese government due to the coronavirus, which could affect our growth, even half a point in GDP of the year.”