Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (Chile) Value Stock - Dividend - Research Selection
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Description of the company
Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. is an open stock corporation organized under the laws of the Republic of Chile. We were constituted by public deed issued on June 17, 1968 by the Notary Public of Santiago, Mr. Sergio Rodríguez Garcés. Our existence was approved by Decree No. 1,164 of June 22, 1968 of the Ministry of Finance, and we were registered on June 29, 1968 in the Registry of Commerce of Santiago, on page 4,537 No. 1,992. Our headquarters is located at El Trovador 4285, Fl. 6, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile. Our telephone number is +56 2 2425-2000. Our U.S. representative is SQM NA located at 2727 Paces Ferry Road, Building Two, Suite 1425, Atlanta, GA 30339. The phone number is +1 (770) 916-9407.
Commercial exploitation of the caliche ore deposits in northern Chile began in the 1830s, when sodium nitrate was extracted from the ore for use in the manufacturing of explosives and fertilizers. By the end of the nineteenth century, nitrate production had become the leading industry in Chile and the country was the world’s leading supplier of nitrates. The accelerated commercial development of synthetic nitrates in the 1920s and the global economic depression in the 1930s caused a serious contraction of the Chilean nitrate business, which did not recover significantly until shortly before the Second World War. After the war, the widespread commercial production of synthetic nitrates resulted in a further contraction of the natural nitrate industry in Chile, which continued to operate at depressed levels into the 1960s.
We were formed in 1968 through a joint venture between Compañía Salitrera Anglo Lautaro S.A. (“Anglo Lautaro”) and Corfo. Three years after our formation, in 1971, Anglo Lautaro sold all of its shares to Corfo, and we were wholly owned by the Chilean Government until 1983. In 1983, Corfo began a process of privatization by selling our shares to the public and subsequently listing such shares on the Santiago Stock Exchange. By 1988, all of our shares were publicly owned. Our Series B ADSs have traded on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “SQM” since 1993. We accessed international capital markets again for the issuance of additional ADSs in 1995 and 1999. On December 21, 2006, two groups of shareholders, the “Pampa Group” (which includes the company Sociedad de Inversiones Pampa Calichera S.A. and its related companies, Inversiones Global Mining Chile Limitada and Potasios de Chile S.A.) and Kowa Group (which includes the companies Kowa Company Ltd., Inversiones La Esperanza (Chile) Limitada, Kochi S.A and La Esperanza Delaware Corporation) signed a joint agreement and became the controlling group of SQM.
Since our inception, we have produced nitrates and iodine, which are obtained from the caliche ore deposits in northern Chile. In 1985, we began to use heap leaching processes to extract nitrates and iodine, and in 1986 we started to produce potassium nitrate at our Coya Sur facility. Between 1994 and 1999, we invested approximately US$300 million in the development of the Salar de Atacama project in northern Chile, which enabled us to produce potassium chloride, lithium carbonate, potassium sulfate and boric acid.
From 2000 through 2004, we principally consolidated the investments carried out in the preceding five years. We focused on reducing costs and improving efficiencies throughout the organization. In addition, in 2001, we signed a commercial distribution agreement with the Norwegian company Yara International ASA, in order to take advantage of cost synergies in the Specialty Plant Nutrition business line.
Starting in 2005, we began strengthening our leadership position in our core businesses through a combination of capital expenditures and advantageous acquisitions and divestitures. Our acquisitions have included the Kemira Emirates Fertiliser Company (“Kefco”) in Dubai in 2005 and the iodine business of Royal DSM N.V. (“DSM”) in 2006. We also entered into a number of joint ventures, including a joint venture with Migao Corporation (“Migao”), signed in 2008, for the production of potassium nitrate, and SQM VITAS, our joint venture with the French Roullier Group. Pursuant to the latter joint venture, in 2010, we launched a new line of soluble phosphate products, and in 2012 we built new plants for the production of water-soluble fertilizers in Brazil (Candeias), Peru and South Africa (Durban). We have also sold: (i) Fertilizantes Olmeca, our former Mexican subsidiary, in 2006, (ii) our stake in Impronta S.R.L., our former Italian subsidiary, in 2007 and (iii) our former butyllithium plant located in Houston, Texas, in 2008. These sales allowed us to concentrate our efforts on our core products.
The capital expenditure program has allowed us to add new products to our product line and increase the production capacity of our existing products. In 2005, we started production of lithium hydroxide at a plant in the Salar del Carmen, near the city of Antofagasta in the north of Chile. In 2007, we completed the construction of a new prilling and granulating plant. In 2011, we completed expansions of our lithium carbonate capacity, achieving 48,000 metric tons per year. Since 2010, we have continued to expand our production capacity of potassium products in our operations in the Salar de Atacama. In 2011, we completed the construction of a new potassium nitrate facility in Coya Sur, increasing our overall production capacity of potassium nitrate by 300,000 metric tons per year. In 2013, we completed expansions in the production capacity of our iodine plants in Nueva Victoria. Our capital expenditure program also includes exploration for metallic minerals. Our exploration efforts have led to discoveries that in some cases may result in sales of the discovery and the generation of royalty income in the future. Within this context, in 2013 we sold our royalty rights to the Antucoya mining project to Antofagasta Minerals. In 2013 we also opened a trading office in Thailand.
In 2014, we invested in the development of new extraction sectors and production increases in both nitrates and iodine at Nueva Victoria, reaching an approximate production capacity of 6,500 metric tons per year of iodine at the facility. We also issued a bond in the international capital markets for US$250 million, primarily to refinance existing indebtedness.