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About SQM

SQM is a company with worldwide presence in industries essential for human development, through five principal business lines: specialty plant nutrition, lithium and derivatives, iodine and derivatives, industrial chemicals and potassium.

Throughout our 55 years of innovation and technological development, we have established ourselves as world leaders in the lithium, potassium nitrate, iodine and thermo-solar salts markets.

We have surpassed the 2 billion US dollar mark in sales, managed by the 20 commercial offices, distributed among five continents, giving us a presence in 115 countries.

To achieve world leadership, we have invested heavily to increase our production capacity, open new facilities, train our people; conduct research; improve technology and take actions to understand the needs of our customers.

With operations in Salar de Atacama, Coya Sur, María Elena, Pedro de Valdivia, Tocopilla, Salar del Carmen and Nueva Victoria, we are the heirs of the saltpeter industry; and through a base of innovation and meticulous engineering work, we have reinvented it.

Today, not only do we offer quality products and services, but we work together with our clients around the world to achieve the success of their businesses, making SQM a strategic ally.

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Specialty Plant Nutrition

Specialty Plant Nutrition is SQM's business line that provides specialized nutritional solutions for fertigation, soil and foliar applications, which, together with the experience and knowledge of our technical agronomic team, provide the necessary macro and microelements to increase the profitability of our clients' agricultural businesses.

SQM's Specialty Plant Nutrition Solutions, Ultrasol®, Qrop® and Speedfol® are powered by “Element Q”, along with SQM's unique warranty seal, whose impact on your field will boost both the result of your crops and your business.

Caliche ore, the history of Chilean nitrate

In agriculture, potassium nitrate is used as a soluble fertilizer and is a source of nitric nitrogen and potassium, which is virtually free of chloride. Potassium nitrate is an ideal source of N and K for optimal plant growth and contributes to the health and performance of crops.

Potassium nitrate is obtained through a process that mixes sodium nitrate, derived from Caliche and potassium chloride, obtained from the brines from Salar de Atacama, in northern Chile. This process uses solutions rich in sodium nitrate to which potassium chloride is added, producing the reaction to obtain potassium nitrate.

Caliche ore, the history of Chilean nitrate

Caliche is a mineral that contains high concentrations of nitrate and iodine, and, to a lesser Extent, potassium. Caliche is encountered in layers or veins which are from 20 cm up to 5 meters thick, covered by a shallow, sterile surface layer that can be from half a meter up to 1.5 meters thick. Uses for caliche have been known for a long time by the native peoples, and during the Spanish conquest in the 17th century it was used as an agricultural fertilizer. Caliche stems from the Quechua word “cachi”, meaning salt.

55 years of continuous efforts to deliver excellence

SQM was established 55 years ago. We are present in strategic industries for human development: health, food and technology. Our history is one of determination and innovation. Over the years we have made major contributions to developing better crops, reassuring a healthier life, and we have helped to substantially improve fruit quality. Our new processing methods have contributed to advanced health treatments, as well as improve animal feed and we are fully committed to delivering cleaner energy. Together with our collaborators we proudly strive to integrity, transparency, and respect, to provide leading edge solutions for human progress, for a more sustainable world. SQM, continuously contributing to human development.


Our timeline

1920 sqm

Maria Elena

The Guggenheim family acquires land in El Toco area and opens the Maria Elena nitrate office.

1950 sqm

Coya Sur

A nitrate crystallizing plant is built in Coya Sur in order to take advantage of nitrate precipitation from solar evaporation ponds

1960 sqm


SQM is created through the merger of Corporación de Ventas de Salitre y Yodo, Compañía Salitrera Anglo Lautaro, Compañía Victoria and the Chilean government.

1980 sqm


SQM’s privatization process begins, concluding in 1988, and private pension funds acquire an ownership stake.



The potassium nitrate facility at Coya Sur begins production using a completely new process designed by SQM

1990 sqm


Operations begin at a technical grade potassium nitrate facility. SQM completes its first share issuance on international markets through its ADR program

2000 sqm


SQM expands its potassium chloride production in the Salar de Atacama and builds a new potassium nitrate plant at Coya Sur



Production begins at the new nitrate prilling and granulation plant at Coya Sur



SQM signs new joint ventures with Coromandel (India), Qingdao Star (China) and Roullier (France)

2010 Movie


Production commences in a new potassium nitrate plant in Coya Sur, increasing production by 300,000 tons per year



SQM expands production capacity of potassium products in its facilities in the Salar de Atacama, achieving production of approximately 2 million tons per year



SQM opens new logistics terminal in Terneuzen, the Netherlands



SQM increases the total production capacity of potassium nitrate, reaching 1.5 million tons per year. Celebration of the 50th anniversary