The board of directors of Compañía Minera Doña Inés de Collahuasi SCM has approved the company’s technical teams to commence a prefeasibility study into a major expansion of Collahuasi, referred to as Phase III. This project would mean a significant increase in the concentrator plant’s processing capacity and the construction of associated infrastructure.

The project envisages the construction of one or two new grinding lines, allowing Collahuasi to process between 270,000 and 380,000 metric tons (mt) of ore a day. This increase in production from the current annual average of approximately 500,000 mt of copper to 800,000 mt with a single line expansion, and to more than 1 million mt with both lines, would begin from the project’s anticipated commissioning in 2017.

“This expansion project is aligned with Collahuasi’s growth plan that seeks to increase annual output to more than 1 million mt of copper supported by Collahuasi’s significant mineral resource of 7.1 billion mt at an average grade of 0.82%,” said Giancarlo Bruno, Collahuasi CEO.

A decision will be taken in the second half of this year on whether to complete studies on the options of either one or two new grinding lines. The prefeasibility study is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2012.

Collahuasi has recently announced approval to increase the processing capacity of its existing concentrator plant to 160,000 mt of ore per day by mid-2013.