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Chile Mining Pipeline: 5 New Projects

During a webcast event in September, state copper agency Cochilco, reported that Chile´s mining sector will receive more than US$74bn in investments by 2029.

“89.4% of the total will be for copper, while 77% of total investment will go to northern regions led by Antofagasta with 33% and Atacama with 25%,” said mining minister Baldo Prokurica during the event on Wednesday. Cochilco forecasts that US$44.8bn of the total will be invested in 2020-24. During that period, 37 of the 49 projects would start operating. 

Since last year, five new projects valued at around US$2bn have been added to the portfolio which previously included 44 initiatives for a total US$72.5bn. 

We have provided an overview of the 5 new projects below:

Carmen de Andacollo Operational Continuity

Teck Resources will invest US$100mn with the aim to increase the processing rate to 58,000t/d from 55,600t/d at its project in the Coquimbo region

The miner submitted the environmental impact assessment last year, which is currently under evaluation. Last week, Teck asked for a 30-day extension to the deadline to submit information required by the evaluation service. 

Candelaria Operational Continuity

The US$600mn copper, gold and silver project in Atacama region, seeks to extend the mine life of Lundin’s Candelaria mine by 10 years starting in 2031. The objective is to reach an average processing rate of 90,000t/d, and a maximum 115,000t/d. 

Candelaria is an open pit and underground mine providing copper ore to an on-site processing plant with a current capacity of approximately 75,000 tonnes per day (tpd). 

Candelaria’s current mine life will end in 2030, but Lundin has identified additional reserves and resources of approximately 350Mt of copper that will contribute to extend the life for 10 more years.

Lundin plans to increase the mining rate in the open pit and in the underground operation, but the project will also include a new open pit named La Española, which is due to go into production by 1Q24. The underground operation will have a new crushing system and the waste material disposal area of the whole project will be expanded. 

By 3Q23, the desalination plant’s current capacity of 500l/s will be increased by 70-100l/s, and from 1Q22 the port area will have copper concentrates storage capacity of approximately 60,000t. Lundin said it is willing to assume a number of commitments to mitigate the environmental impact of the expansion, such as replace diesel vehicles for electric ones, remove tailings from an abandoned dam with an investment of up to US$500,000, notify surrounding communities of the blasting schedule and allow local visitors to the desalination plant.

Polo Sur 

Antofagasta Minerals is currently waiting on the environmental impact assessment to be reviewed for the  US$300mn project involving the construction of two pits at the Centinela copper mine in Antofagasta region, to assure the operational continuity of the copper oxides line. 

The project considers the following new works and / or relevant modifications in the oxide line:

  • New South Pole and Sherezade pits together with dumps and ore stockpiles in the area called South Pole (Polo Sur in Spanish).
  • Enlargement of the ROM pile and the gravel deposit at Encuentro, for the processing of the minerals extracted from the South Pole.
  • New road for transportation of ore in trucks from the South Pole area to a transfer area adjacent to the crushing and agglomeration plant and a service road for light vehicles.
  • Civic neighborhood with support facilities for the exploitation of new pits in the South Pole area.
  • Primary crushing plant including overland conveyor belt.

Arqueros 

The US$200mn project by Japan’s Nittetsu Mining in Coquimbo region aims to produce copper concentrates from an underground mine for 17 years. Its environmental impact study was submitted in May and the project is expected to generate up to 675 jobs during construction and 688 once in operation. 

According to the EIA, the mid-scale initiative will include an underground mine, a concentrator plant and a tailing dam. Arqueros will produce copper concentrate for 17 years. 

Lobo-Marte 

In July, Kinross said it plans to prepare the Lobo-Marte feasibility study later this year, with scheduled completion in 4Q21. Located in Atacama region, at an altitude of approximately 4,200 meters above sea level, the project is designed to produce approximately 4.5Moz of gold during a 15-year mine life and construction is planned to begin in 2025. Capex has been updated to US$765mn. 

The Pre-Feasibility Study contemplates an open pit, heap leach and SART (Sulphidization, Acidification, Recycling and Thickening) plant operation using rope conveyors and mining the Marte and Lobo deposits in succession. Kinross has previously used SART technology successfully in the region. Subject to a positive development decision, the PFS estimates Lobo-Marte project construction beginning in 2025, with first production expected in 2027.

Harris Gomez Group is a Common Law firm, with offices in Santiago, Bogotá, and Sydney. We also have legal teams in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. Over the last 20 years, our team of English speaking Lawyers and Attorneys have been supporting foreign companies with their growth in Latin America. Many of our clients are technology companies, service providers and engineering companies that focus on the mining, energy and infrastructure markets. 

To better understand how we can support your management team in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at cmm@hgomezgroup.com