Codelco announced on March 1, that its capital expenditures during 2013 will exceed $5 billion, up from $4.168 billion in 2012. Approximately $2.29 billion of the 2013 total will go toward three major development projects: $1.155 billion for the new Ministro Hales mine, $716 million for the new mine level at El Teniente, and $417 million for the Chuquicamata underground project. These three projects are slated to make major contributions toward Codelco’s long-term goal of maintaining is position as the world’s leading copper producer.
The Ministro Hales project includes an open-pit mine, concentrator, roaster, smelter and refinery. Production ramp-up is scheduled to begin in October 2013, moving toward design capacity of 183,000 mt/y during 2014. The project is located near the city of Calama in Region II of northern Chile.
Ministro Hales has a total resource of 1.3 billion mt at an average grade of 0.96% copper. Current planning calls for 282 million mt to be mined by open-pit methods. Mine production is planned at 50,000 mt/d.
At El Teniente, work on the new mine level during 2013 will focus on mine development and excavation of the two primary access tunnels, one for use by employee transport buses and the other for the ore conveyor belt, a service track, and an alternative emergency exit. The project will extend mine life at El Teniente by 50 years following startup in 2017.
The new level at El Teniente is based on 2.02 million mt of reserves at grades of 0.86% copper and 0.022% molybdenum, equivalent to 17 million mt of fine copper. The new level is scheduled to produce 137,000 mt/d of ore and 430,000 mt/y of fine copper, maintaining existing capacity at the mine. An option remains open for later expansion to 180,000 mt/d.
At the Chuquicamata underground project, the feasibility and early works stage is nearing completion. Work will continue during 2013 on the principal access and ventilation tunnels and ventilation shafts, along with other work.
Ore reserves under the existing Chuquicamata open-pit are estimated at 1.7 billion mt grading 0.7% copper and 502 ppm molybdenum. The mining rate is planned at 140,000 mt/d, equivalent to production of 366,000 mt/y of fine copper and 18,000 mt/y of molybdenum.
Other development projects that will receive attention from Codelco during 2013 include the Radomiro Tomic sulphides phase II project and the Andina 244 expansion.