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Xstrata's Peru copper project to cost $5.2B

Keywords: Tags  Xstrata Copper, Las Bambas, Antapaccay, Antamina, Charlie Sartain, Carolina Guerra

SÃO PAULO — Xstrata Copper has confirmed that its investment in the Las Bambas project in southern Peru will total an estimated $5.2 billion—about $1 billion more than when the project was approved in August 2010.

The project, which is currently under construction, is expected to produce at least 400,000 tonnes of copper annually in its first five years, with a life span estimated at more than 20 years. Commissioning is expected to start at the end of 2014, with production ramp-up in 2015.

"Las Bambas represents the next major stage in Xstrata Copper’s Peruvian development plans that will result in combined annual production levels in the country of around 700,000 tonnes of high-margin copper from 2015," Xstrata Copper chief executive officer Charlie Sartain said.

"Following the successful commissioning of five projects in just over a year, including our new $1.5-billion Antapaccay Mine and the major plant expansion at our Antamina joint venture in Peru, this latest review of Las Bambas confirms the progressive realization of Xstrata Copper’s ambitious organic growth strategy," he said.

Brisbane, Australia-headquartered Xstrata Copper announced in November that the first commercial-grade copper from Peru’s Antapaccay project had been delivered to the port of Maratani. Antapaccay, which will have a 20-year mine life, is expected to progressively ramp up to a processing capacity of 70,000 tonnes per day in the first half of 2013.

At Antamina—a joint venture between Xstrata Copper; London-based BHP Billiton Plc; Vancouver, British Columbia-based Teck Resources Ltd.; and Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corp.—about $1.3 billion in investments have helped boost ore-processing capacity at the mine site by 38 percent to 130,000 tonnes per day. The project was commissioned in December 2011 and completed in the first quarter of 2012.

In addition, the company said it had completed a project to extend the life of its Lomas Bayas Mine in Chile by 16 years. Lomas Bayas produces about 75,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year.

Xstrata’s total copper production in the third quarter fell 16 percent from a year earlier as higher output from Antamina was offset by lower production from the company’s Ernest Henry operation in Queensland, Australia (, Oct. 17).

Ernest Henry produced 8,900 tonnes in the third quarter compared with 25,700 tonnes a year earlier, when the project’s open-pit mine was operational. Xstrata has invested in a new underground mine at Ernest Henry, which it said it is currently ramping up.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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