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Chilean state minerals processing Enami submitted an environmental impact declaration for a project to double copper cathode output to 4,800t/y at its El Salado SX-EW plant in the Chanaral district of northern Chile's Region III.
According to documents presented to environmental regulator Corema, the project will require investment of US$2.25mn, although Enami's mining manager Gustavo Gallo said the figure for the whole expansion is US$2.8mn. The expansion will take 14 months to complete, he said, without giving a start-up date.
The project will create 185 jobs at new mining operations in the area, as well as secure 183 jobs at current mines and another 184 indirect positions, Gallo said.
Enami processes minerals for small- and medium-scale mining operations, as well as some larger mines, and helps promote the development of the sector. Its principal operations are its Ventanas smelter-refinery in central Chile's Region V and the Paipote smelter in Region III.
Chile's government is seeking a formula to restructure Enami's debts of some US$480mn, and one option being considered was to transfer Ventanas smelter to state copper corporation Codelco, although according to El Diario newspaper that course of action has now been ruled out.
Enami's small-scale clients were concerned that if Ventanas became part of Codelco, they would not receive support from the state.
Ventanas produces some 320,000t/y electrolytic copper, but Codelco wants to expand it to process more concentrates from its Andina division when this boosts output to 400,000t/y of contained copper from 250,000t at present.