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Roaster problem delays Codelco’s Ministro Hales

Posted by: Admin | Posted on: July 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Chilean state-owned copper producer Codelco is facing delays at its newest operation after problems emerged at a copper roaster built to process high arsenic ores from its Ministro Hales mine in Chile.

The operation, which started up in December, is working at 90% capacity, according to a Reuters report. It is expected to produce 183,000t/y of copper at full tilt.

Ministro Hales is an integral part of the company’s US$22.5 billion, five-year investment plan aimed at retaining Codelco’s position as the world’s biggest copper miner, while reducing its operating costs. The company told the news agency that some auxiliary equipment for the roaster was being modified in order to ensure continuous operation. It is thought Codelco had to cancel some copper shipments to Chinese customers as a result of these problems.

In a speech to the Committee of the Mining Chamber of Deputies, Codelco president Oscar Landerretche said this week the operation was in the “start-up phase” and it would “open soon.”

On Thursday the copper miner submitted changes to its US$6.8 billion Andina expansion project in Chile to the country’s environmental authorities after facing criticism from some groups over the potential environmental impact of the project, which could boost production capacity to 600,000t/y of copper when it comes on stream, compared with 236,715t in 2013.
Acting projects head, Gerhard von Borries said the changes would reduce the impact on rock glaciers in the area, and the amount of water used. He pledged to recycle on average 65% of water used in the project.

On the investment programme, Landerretche said: “Codelco has the obligation to make the largest investment in its history. This is the only way to maintain its production capacity, leadership and, thus, continue to contribute to the country [Chile].”
Landerretche told the chamber the company planned to boost output to more than 2Mt/y of copper by 2025 (it produced 1.62Mt in 2013), while reducing costs and becoming more efficient.

Production costs would fall in 2014 after a 0.3% drop in direct cash costs last year, he said.

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