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Mid-sized Chile miners to invest US$2.6bn through 2031

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Mid-sized Chile miners to invest US$2.6bn through 2031

Medium miners with operations in Chile will invest US$2.6bn through 2031 in seven signature projects, according to a study by state copper commission Cochilco.

“Over the past few years a trend has been observed in which large mining firms are leaving smaller sized operations, which reflects a strategy aimed at the exploitation of large deposits and scale economies, opening an interesting space for local mid-sized mining companies,” the study said.

PROJECTS

Michilla development plan (US$235mn): The mine is owned by Minera HMC and the plan is under environmental review, according to environmental review agency SEA. It entails extending the mine life of the Michilla copper mine in Antofagasta region by 21 years.

Sierra Norte (US$597mn): Expected to start operations this year and owned by Compañía Minera Sierra Norte. It entails an open pit mine in Atacama region, with the capacity to process some 100Mt/y. Oxide resources would be processed at a 2,000t/d hydrometallurgical treatment plant, while mixed and sulfide resources will be processed at a 24,000t/d concentrator plant.

Ciclón Exploradora (US$110mn): Its environmental evaluation was terminated last year by SEA because owner Eco Earth Elements presented a deficient environmental impact study. It entails the exploitation of two underground mines in Antofagasta region to extract copper, zinc, silver, lead and gold.

Arqueros (US$200mn): Expected to start operations this year. Comprises a subterranean copper mine, a concentrator plant, a tailings deposit and complementary works for the supply of water, energy and other services. The mine, in Coquimbo region, is expected to extract 5,000t/d and is owned by Compañía Minera Arqueros.

Playa Verde (US$95mn): Owner Minera Playa Verde plans to start operations in 2024. Works include dredging old tailings deposits at Chañaral's Playa Grande beach. The mineral extracted will be processed in a metallurgical plant to obtain copper in cathodes and concentrates. It aims to process 5Mt/y for seven years.

Costa Fuego (US$725mn): Operations are scheduled to begin in 2025 and the project involves the consolidation of the Cortadera porphyry copper-gold deposit, which is owned by Sociedad Minera La Frontera, and the Productora copper-gold deposit, owned by Sociedad Minera El Águila in Atacama region.

El Espino (US$624mn): Expected to start operations in 2024 and owned by Sociedad Punta del Cobre. It comprises the open-pit exploitation of the El Espino copper-gold deposit in Coquimbo region.

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