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Spotlight: 3 major copper-gold projects under construction in Chile

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2022
Spotlight: 3 major copper-gold projects under construction in Chile

Chile’s US$68.9bn mining project portfolio includes three copper and gold projects under construction which are expected to start operations late this year or early 2023.

Salares del Norte

Wholly owned by Gold Fields, production is expected to start in 1H23. Located in Atacama region, the US$860mn project has capacity to process 2Mt/y of ore and produce 2.8Moz/y of metal doré (gold-silver) on average, or 350,000oz/y of gold equivalent.

Waste and tailings facilities will form part of the operational cycle to increase water recirculation to 30l/s on average. It will be powered by a solar plant and useful life is expected to be 13 years.

Gold Fields expects to consolidate its South America presence with the project.

Los Pelambres Complementary Mining Infrastructure (INCO, phase 1)

Antofagasta Minerals wants to strengthen mineral processing capacity of its Los Pelambres copper mine with this project. It involves the installation of a 400l/s reverse osmosis desalination plant and a 61km desalinated water drive-conveyance system that will run between the Los Pelambres pumping station in Puerto Punta Chungo and its El Mauro tailings dam, both in Los Vilos in Coquimbo region.

The desalination plant will start operations at the end of the year.

Antofagasta Minerals’ 2022 portfolio involves US$1.9bn in investments and copper guidance is 640,000t-660,000t.

Quebrada Blanca phase II (QB2)

The project in Tarapacá region is due to start operations at year-end. Average annual production is expected to reach 316,000t of copper during the first five years. Works include building a 143,000t/d concentrator to be connected to a new port and a desalination plant via a 165km pipeline. Useful life is planned to be 28 years.

In August, Japanese companies Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corp, which hold 40% of Quebrada Blanca, announced an increase in investment for the project to US$7.5bn, after 60%-owner Teck Resources modified the budget from US$4.7bn to US$7bn due to an exchange rate update, among other factors.

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