The board of Chile’s Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper miner, has chosen Octavio Araneda as interim CEO after sacking Thomas Keller last week amid government plans to ramp-up investments in the state-owned company by $20 billion through 2024. Araneda is vice president of central-south operations.
Keller, according to officials, was fired after intense cost-cutting strategies caused frictions with board members and union leaders alike. “The majority of the board voted for change,” Board President Oscar Landerretche told reporters, according to Reuters. “Codelco needs to be re-established;” Chile possesses the world’s greatest copper reserves.
In addition to board member clashes over expansion strategies, Keller faced threats of mineworker strikes in April and Q3 2013. Keller became CEO after recruitment by predecessor and ex-BHP Billiton executive Diego Hernandez in Q2 2012; he was previously executive president of the Anglo American plc and Glencore plc-owned Collahuasi copper project, also in Chile.
Under Santiago regulations, Codelco submits all profits to the government pending annual proposals to reinvest; Keller, however, vocally criticized the statutes. Since the 1990s, Chile has used Codelco profits to transform the Andean nation into one of the region’s most prosperous. Since 2012, Codelco invested more than $8 billion in operations via bonds and profits.