RE: Phosphate Mines - Fossils
What I believe you are refering to as "phosphate" mines in Chiles' Atacama are not phosphate mines as for example in NC. Rather they are naturally occurring sodium nitrate deposits, called caliche. The Chilean company SQM controls the majority of these deposits. In addition to the caliche deposits there are also numerous Salars in the Atacama. These are basically shallow,salt encrusted playas. I don't have any idea of the potential as a source of marine fosils.
Based on you post I'm guessing you have visted the PCS Phosphate mine in Aurora, NC. It is about 30 miles NE of New Bern, NC. If not I would recommend contacting them as they offer hunts for these types of items fairly reguarly.
Good luck and Happy hunting
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