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The concessions board at Chile's public works ministry (MOP) has declared of public interest the expansion of a 469km stretch of highway between the northern cities of Caldera and Antofagasta, local press reported.
The move sets in motion preparations for the bidding rules, which would be ready in 2015, according to newspapers. The bidding process would take place during the second half of 2016, with works beginning the following year.
Estimated at 369bn pesos (US$621mn), works include expanding the two-lane highway into four lanes.
About 60% of the traffic currently circulating on that stretch of the highway are trucks servicing the mining sector, which would provide the concessioned stretch with "outstanding and above normal economic profitability," according to Alejandro Molina, general manager of GOC Group, which proposed the expansion.
"We're making the mining sector more competitive via infrastructure," he was quoted as saying by El Mercurio.
As the company that originally proposed the works, GOC Group would automatically get a competitive advantage over other bidders in the tender process.