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Privately held Chilean miner Pampa Camarones' environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a US$6mn project to develop the Salamanqueja copper project in northernmost region XV has been approved, a source from the environment ministry's (MMA) regional evaluating committee told BNamericas.
The EIA was submitted for evaluation in May and the company had to submit two amendments before obtaining the approval.
The claim on the copper deposit, which will be developed as an underground mine, was leased for 15 years by state minerals company Enami to Pampa Camarones through a tender process in February last year as part of a program to promote small and mid-sized mining activity in the region.
Pampa Camarones expects to extract 30,000t/m of oxide ore with an average grade of 1.78%, which will be sold initially to Enami's facilities 6km from Salamanqueja.
Originally, the lease agreement between Pampa Camarones and Enami involved the construction of a SX-EW plant for the processing of the mined ore and production of copper cathodes. The plant was expected to have a processing capacity of 50,000t/m - to handle the Pampa Camarones ore plus 20,000t/m of ore Enami buys from small miners - for cathode output of 8,200-9,000t/y.
In the EIA submitted for evaluation, Pampa Camarones clarified that the development of the underground mine in a first stage will provide key information to evaluate the size and characteristics of the plant, which will be constructed in a second stage of development.
Pampa Camarones is now set to start preparatory works, which according to the EIA were scheduled to start this month. Operations are expected to start in December.