BHP has announced the expansion of its Spence copper mine in Chile will be delayed because of COVID-19 containment measures.
The earliest production at the mine won’t occur until early 2021, the company said in a statement announcing its first quarter results. The company also reduced its on-site workforce, which will delay the commissioning of the desalination plant that feeds demand at the copper mine, until the H1 2021.
The anticipated delay reflects the decision to reduce traffic at the construction site, as per social distancing protocols.
In 2017, BHP approved capital expenditure of $2.46bn for the Spence Growth Option (SGO) at the Spence open-cut copper mine in northern Chile, which will extend the mine’s life by more than half a century.
The desalination plant, located at Mejillones Bay, has a capacity of 1,000 liters per second and a 154 km water pipeline between the plant and the mining site. BHP noted $1.43bn has been invested in the facility.
During the first 10 years of operation, incremental production from SGO will be approximately 185,000mt per annum of payable copper in concentrates, and 4,000mt per year of payable molybdenum.