China has been the driving force behind the rapid growth and industrialization of Latin America's mineral industry in recent years, according to a report released by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
In 2015 about 20 percent of the region's total mineral output went to China, up from only two percent in 2000, the report said Wednesday.
China has replaced Japan, South Korea and Germany as a major mineral export destination for Latin America, it said.
However, as China now shifts from a world factory to an economy based on domestic consumption and services, the country is lowering its demand for Latin America's unrefined minerals, the report warned.
Chinese companies are increasing their production of minerals and also investing more in refining metals.
In 2014, Latin American countries produced 44 percent of the world's unrefined copper and under 20 percent of refined copper, while China produced 9 percent of unrefined copper and 35 percent of global refined copper, the report said.
"China is always moving forward and it is extremely important for our region to do the same," said Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of ECLAC.