Peru is one of the most productive precious metal exporters in the world with mining, and agriculture, a fundamental pillar of Peru's growing economy. As such, the Peruvian government continues to actively promote and support exploration with its mining-friendly policies.
Because of its resources and policies, Peru has attracted over $600 million in gold mineral exploration financing in 2009, more than Russia, Chile and Brazil. Overall, foreign mineral investments totaled $2.7 billion in 2009, an increase of 68 percent from 2008 (source: Peru Annual Mining Report, released by Ministry of Energy and Mines, pages 45-47).
The country is the leading producer of gold in Latin America and the fifth largest in the world, exporting almost $7 billion worth of gold in 2009 alone, representing a 22 percent increase over 2008.
When the rest of the world’s major economies were shrinking in 2009 due to the financial crisis, Peru was one of only a few countries that saw GDP growth, attributed mostly to mining exports. According to the Ministry of Energy & Mines, Peru is home to over $35 billion of mineral projects.
Peru plays host to some of the largest and lowest cost precious and base-metal mines in the world, including Alto Chicama, Yanacocha and Antamina. Many of the world's major mining companies, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Vale, Newmont, Phelps Dodge and Barrick have operations in the country.
While mining dates back thousands of years in Peru, the first large scale operations were carried out by the Inca Empire in the 1400's. The former Inca capital of Cusco has a historic tradition as being one of the highest gold-bearing areas in the world. Throughout its history the Inca people mined the surrounding areas, producing vast amounts of gold, silver, copper and other precious metals.
In the 1500's the Spanish Empire conquered the city of Cusco and took control the surrounding lands. The Spanish settlers also established what is known as present day Lima. Soon thereafter, Spanish immigrants began mining and exporting the country's rich mineral reserves back to Spain. Gold and silver production from the Andes Mountains became the principle source of Spanish wealth in Latin America.
The country remained under Spanish control until 1821 when Peru finally declared independence. The revolt was led by José de San Martin and Simón Bolívar. The emancipation was completed in 1824 when the last of the Spanish troops were defeated. After attempting to re-gain control for several decades, Spain finally recognized Peru's independence in 1879.
In an effort to increase economic activity in the southern part of the country, the Peruvian government has invested billions of dollars over the last few decades on infrastructure projects. By far the largest venture is the Interoceanic Highway, which will span across the entire portion of southern Peru when completed. The government hopes to spur economic activity in the area as there will now be a central roadway to connect products with previously unreachable markets and sea ports.
Peru's Commodity Export Rankings
Metal World Latin America
Silver 1st 1st
Gold 5th 1st
Copper 3rd 2nd
Zinc 3rd 1st