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The 7 copper projects expected to start operations in Chile this year

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2023
The 7 copper projects expected to start operations in Chile this year

Seven major Chilean copper projects are expected to start operations this year, involving total investment of just over US$11bn and production of nearly 700,000t/y.

One initiative that was expected for this year but has been postponed is the Rajo Inca open pit at the Salvador division of state copper company Codelco in northern Atacama region. The objective is to continue operations after the underground mine was closed on Tuesday after 63 years.

However, the US$1.4bn investment to produce 70,000t/y copper in concentrate is 16 months behind schedule for reasons related to the pandemic and the crisis in the global supply chain.

As a result, the start of production was postponed to 1H24, Codelco’s chairman Máximo Pacheco told a forum organized Tuesday by the College of Engineers and the Voces Mineras trade association.

BNamericas reviews the seven projects that are due to start up this year.

Quebrada Blanca phase II - Teck Resources

Investment: US$7.75bn (upward revision from 3Q22).

Location: Tarapacá region

Production: 316,000-320,000t/y of copper in concentrate during the first five years. The expectation was raised after considering various operational improvements.

The Pelambres INCO (phase I) - Antofagasta Minerals

Investment: US$2.2bn

Location: Coquimbo region

Production: 66,000t/y copper in concentrate

Concentrate leaching - Ecometales (a Codelco subsidiary)

Investment: US$371min

Location: Antofagasta region (Codelco’s northern division)

Production: 60,000t/y fine copper

Collahuasi complementary installations - Doña Inés de Collahuasi

Investment: US$302mn

Location: Tarapacá region

Production: 30,000t/y copper in concentrate

Michilla development plan - Haldeman Mining Company

Investment: US$235mn

Location: Antofagasta region

Production: 25,000t/y copper cathodes

Operational continuity Zaldívar - Antofagasta Minerals

Investment: US$100mn

Location: Antofagasta region  

Production: 126,000t/y copper cathodes

Situation: Last week the environmental evaluation service announced the suspension of the evaluation of the project so the company can carry out an indigenous consultation.

Operational continuity Carmen de Andacollo - Teck

Investment: US$100mn

Location: Coquimbo region

Production: 60,000t/y copper in concentrate and cathodes

The portfolio of mining projects in Chile for the period 2022-31 totals US$73.7bn in 53 initiatives, two more than in an investment report produced by copper commission Cochilco in 2021.

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