Chile’s mining industry is developing several copper projects that will boost the sector’s production over the next few years.
The country’s copper production is expected to increase by 1.5pc to 5.87mn mt this year over 2019 output. Production for 2021 is also expected to rise by 0.7pc to 5.91mn mt over 2020, according to figures from the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco).
The Chuquicamata project, Rajo Inca and División Teniente, which have been developed by Codelco—the world’s top copper producer—are among the projects that will increase national production.
The Chuquicamata project, one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world, is located 1,650km north of Santiago, Chile.
The mine began operating in August 2019 and will ramp-up production over the next seven years to reach 140,000mt per day by 2026, according to Codelco.
The mine, which has a 40-year life, expects to produce 389,000mt of copper this year. Production in 2019 hasn’t been disclosed yet, however, the mine produced 320,744mt of copper in 2018.
The project considers exploitation through macroblocks, using the block caving extraction process, in a subterranean mine made up of four production levels: a principal access tunnel 7.5 km long, five clean air injection ramps, two air extraction spires, and many other features.
The Rajo Inca mining project’s construction, which is part of the División Salvador mine, is expected to start production in the first half of this year, while copper extraction isn’t expected until H2 2021.
División Salvador will operate and produce copper until 2021. The Rajo Inca project will help División increase its production by 50pc to 90,000mt per year.
The project, which will receive an investment of $1bn for development, has 900mn mt of reserves of copper.
The Rajo Inca consists of an operational continuity project of the current installations of the El Salvador Division, through the open pit exploitation of the Indio Muerto deposit. This project will help to extend the useful life of División Salvador for more than 30 years.
The mining project División Teniente is expected to start operations in 2023 and will be capable of producing 137,000mt per day, extending the mine’s lifespan by more than 50 years, according to figures from Codelco. The project has received an investment of $5.7bn for development.
This mining project contains reserves that can reach 2,000mn t with an average copper ore grade of 0.86%.
El Teniente is the world’s biggest underground copper mine and the sixth-largest by reserve size. This mine had a production of 465,000mt in 2018.
El Teniente is made up of four mining projects: Recursos Norte, Diamante, Andesita and Andes Norte.
Codelco’s recorded output in the first nine months of 2019 was 1.2mn mt, down by 6.7pc compared to the same period in 2018.