SÃO PAULO Chilean copper producer Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) will invest more than $5 billion in 2013, exceeding last years record spending of $4.16 billion, which was short of a $4.3-billion target, the company said.
Of this years budget, $2.89 billion will be used in structural projects, primarily to extend the life span of its current mines.
The company also plans to invest $1.15 billion in Ministro Hales, a 183,000-tonne-per-year mine where Codelco wants to start producing copper in October.
"Ministro Hales has been keeping us busy and will be the center of attention of the entire organization this year. The launch is planned for the second half, beginning its ramp-up production in October," Sergio Fuentes, Codelcos vice president of projects, said at a news conference.
A new mining level at its El Teniente mine is another of the companys priorities in 2013. Total investment is estimated at $3.47 billion, of which $716 million is slated to have been spent by the end of 2013.
Codelco is also investing $417 million this year to build at an underground level at its Chuquicamata mine, which is currently at the end of its feasibility stage.
The El Teniente and Chuquicamata expansion projects are set to be concluded in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Expansion of Codelcos Andina operation, which is set to be finished in 2021, will receive $44 million this year for feasibility studies and the beginning of the approval process.
The growth projects come at a time when the copper producer is looking to increase its output levels after years of declines. Codelcos copper output last year was the lowest since 2009 as grades declined at some of its key mines. Total production dropped 5.1 percent year on year to 1.64 million tonnes.
Output from Chuquicamata y Radomiro Tomic, the companys biggest single mine, fell 14.2 percent year on year to 783,700 tonnes in 2012.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.