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Chile's state copper company Codelco and national mining company Enami have signed agreements legalizing the Ventanas smelter and refinery transfer in central Chile from Enami to Codelco.
According to the agreement, Enami has transferred to Codelco real estate, installations, equipment, labs, furniture, vehicles plus rights and patents making up the smelter and refinery's mineral-metal industrial plant.
The agreement also includes transfer of Enami's operations center from capital city Santiago to Copiapó in northern Chile's Atacama Region III. Once the transfer goes through Enami's primary asset will be the Hernán Videla Lira copper smelter in Region III.
The Ventanas transfer agreement is worth US$393mn.
The move is seen as one way to resolve Enami's debt problem, while Codelco is looking for extra smelter and refining capacity for an expansion of its Andina division, which like Ventanas is in central Chile.
Apart from processing copper, Enami has a role to play in developing the small- and mid-scale mining sectors.
Ventanas produces 450,000t/y of electrolytic copper.
Regarding Codelco's investment plan for Ventanas, company executive president Juan Villarzú told BNamericas: "Only now are we thinking about investments and plans to be carried out in the smelter."
Codelco, the world's largest copper miner, has said it would like to expand Ventanas capacity to 800,000t/y.
"We are just starting to work on the issue," he said. "Work is underway to create two large-scale processing centers - one in the north for the Chuquicamata smelter and the other in the central region which aims to complement the Caletones and Ventanas operations."
Meanwhile, Chile's mining minister Alfonso Dulanto said, "We are not only going to reorganize Enami financially but also clear the way to execute expansion and modernization programs, which the sector requires urgently."
The agreement is "good for Enami, Codelco, small-medium scale mining and positive for the country," according to the minister.
Enami executive VP Jaime Pérez de Arce added the potential for investment projects are appearing for Enami such as the expansion of Paipote and state-of-the-art technology transformation process in the Taltal, Vallenar and Ovalle copper plants, which will allow Enami to grow.