Pan Pacific Copper announced in late November 2011 that estimated capital costs to develop its Caserones copper and molybdenum project in Chile have increased to $3 billion from the original estimate of $2 billion. Despite the increase, the company still believes the project has sufficiently favorable economics to justify development, and construction is progressing in line with the original schedule.

Pan Pacific is owned by the Japanese companies JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp.; Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co., Ltd.; and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. The increase in capital costs for Caserones results primarily from the impact of the stronger Chilean peso against the U.S. dollar and cost inflation for construction materials, equipment, labor, and engineering design and development.

Detailed engineering and construction of the camp and access roads to the Caserones mine site have been mostly completed. The groundwork for each of the major facilities has started, and the company expects to reach commercial production of refined copper by dump leaching and SX/EW processing in early 2013 as planned. The project also includes a concentrator that will produce copper and molybdenum concentrates, which is scheduled to start up in September 2013.

Caserones mine production will average 103,000 mt/d. During the first 10 years of operation, refined copper production is planned at 30,000 mt/y, copper content in concentrates is planned at 150,000 mt/y, and molybdenum content in concentrates is planned at 3,000 mt/y. Project life is currently planned at 28 years.

Refined copper production will draw on 300 million mt of copper oxide and secondary sulphide ore grading 0.25% copper. Copper and molybdenum concentrate production will be from 1.05 billion mt of ore grading 0.34% copper and 126 ppm molybdenum.

The Caserones project is located 162 km southeast of Copiapó, the capital of Region III-Atacama of Chile, and 15 km from the Chile-Argentina border. Elevations at the project range from 4,200 to 4,600 m above sea level.

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