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Chile's Tres Valles copper complex, owned by Brazilian miner Vale (NYSE: VALE), has completed the first shipment of its own copper cathodes output, the mine's operations manager Carlos Roa told BNamericas.
The first export amounted to 94t of copper cathodes coming from the first month of operations, which started in early November. The shipment was sent from San Antonio port in central region V and was destined for Brazil, Roa said.
Tres Valles, located in central-northern region IV, was officially inaugurated on December 2 and is currently processing ore being extracted from the Papomono underground mine, one of the two deposits comprising the operation.
The complex, which involved an investment of US$140mn, is Vale's first copper operation in Chile and its start-up is seen by the company as the beginning of a process to expand operations in the country.
Tres Valles also includes the Don Gabriel open pit - where pre-stripping is set to begin by mid-2011 - and a heap leaching-SX-EW plant with capacity to turn out 18,500t/y of copper cathodes.
Full production is expected to be reached by the middle of 2012 once operations start at Don Gabriel.
The mining complex holds close to 20Mt of resources and 10Mt of proven reserves with an average grade of 2% at Papomono and 1% at Don Gabriel. The plan is to feed the processing plant with ore containing an average grade of 1.5%.
Tres Valles has a useful life of 11 years.
Rio de Janeiro-based Vale is the world's largest iron ore producer and exporter.