O f i c i n a   S a n t a   L a u r a

  Vende el "huasito" sus vacas,
sus caballos ensillados
porque dicen que en el Norte
ganan plata a puñados.
P'al Norte me voy, me voy
p'al Norte calichero
donde seré un caballero,
de bastón y de "tongoy".

Popular song in the time when men from the South were recruited to go North and work in the Nitrate Companies.

Anonymous. Group of workers of a nitrate company.


Oficina Salitrera Santa Laura was constructed with the Machine system by Guillermo Wendell at the beginning of 1870 in Pampa Nebraska (Pozo Almonte Canton), to work 100 "estacas" of nitrate lands located between Oficina Cala-Cala and La Palma.

Apparently in the first years of exploitation it did not have the expected success, since in 1876 it figures as shutdown and deserted by its subsequent owner, the Peruvian Government.

Oficina Santa Laura at present. In the foreground a "java", railway car used to transport the Workers.

Oficina Santa Laura

Towards 1913, its land figured under the ownership of The London and Nitrate Co., company that attempted to improve its facilities using for this purpose the equipment dismantled from Oficina Salitrera Ghyzela, of Taltal, using the Shanks System and in the process of dismantling after having definitively closed down on August 31, 1914.

However, due to the lack of vital pieces and implements that could not be acquired until after the end of the First World War, 1914 to 1918, period during which the European industry deviated its productive efforts to war efforts, the start up of production in Santa Laura only materialized in 1921.


Even so, this Nitrate Company started to produce nitrate and iodine when the nitrate industry was in a critical stage due to the competition of synthetic nitrate in the world market. For this reason, after working in difficult conditions and in view of the impossibility of selling its production it shut down at the beginning of 1930.

About at that time, attempting to reactivate the Nitrate Industry, the Chilean State and private producers joined efforts, creating Compañía Salitrera de Chile (COSACH), centralizing the commercialization of the valued natural fertilizer. This association comprised 37 Nitrate companies, most of them with English capitals. Oficina Santa Laura joined this association on July 31, 1931.

Administration House

Car for the transportation of water

COSACH was established with a serious debt and undercapitalized so that its operative duration was very brief and soon it was replaced by Corporacion de Ventas de Salitre y Yodo (COVENSA), in the year 1931 .

COVENSA was formed with the contributions of The Anglo Chilean Nitrate Co., The Lautaro Nitrate Co. and 34 other producers, owners of 64 Nitrate Companies, all of them using the Shanks System to produce nitrate.



Subsequently, in January 1934, COVENSA and other independent producers who represented 16 Nitrate Oficinas were organized under Compañía Salitrera de Tarapacá y Antofagasta (C.S.T.A). This entity entered in a liquidation process in 1961, some of its assets were auctioned and the rest became the property of Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SOQUIMICH).

Oficina Salitrera Santa Laura resumed activities around 1935 and had productive ups and downs until February 1960, date on which the market conditions and the operating costs made it necessary to close down definitively.

Elaboration Plant of Oficina Santa Laura

Oficina Santa Laura, courtesy of Atilio Araya

Oficina Santa Laura, January 12, 1942. Courtesy of Julio Antivilo.

Eco Pampino

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