Codelco outlined plans in early March for $4.328 billion in capital spending during 2012, of which $2.273 will be directed toward major development projects.

The new Ministro Hales mine and a new level at the underground El Teniente mine are already under construction and are budgeted at $1.145 billion and $399 million, respectively, during 2012. A feasibility study is currently in progress for development of an underground mine at Chuquicamata, and implementation of early works has begun, with spending on the project targeted at $243 million during 2012. Feasibility studies are currently in progress for the Andina Expansion 244, the Radomiro Tomic sulphide mine phase II, and the San Antonio oxides project and will continue throughout the year.

At Ministro Hales, removal of overburden and waste is in progress in what Codelco describes as “the world’s largest pre-stripping operation, 238 million mt.” Construction is in progress on the crushing, grinding and flotation plants; the roasting complex; and the sulphuric acid and arsenic abatement plants. Operations are scheduled to start up in 2013. Production is planned to average 163,000 mt/y of fine copper and 264 mt/y of silver.

At El Teniente, early works for the new mining level were nearing completion in early March, and project implementation has begun both inside and outside the mine. The new level is scheduled to produce 137,000 mt/d of ore and 430,000 mt/y of fine copper, with an option to expand to 180,000 mt/d of mine production by 2020.

At Chuquicamata, early works will tunnels and ramps for access roads, both for workers and for minerals transport; ventilation shafts and drifts; and infrastructure support works, including water networks, power supply and telecommunications.