The “Haruka” ship with around 6,000 metric tons (mt) of copper concentrate has reached the port in Niihama — the first shipment from the Sierra Gorda mine in Chile, which started copper production in July 2014. The ship was officially welcomed on December 14 in the presence of KGHM, Sumitomo and Sierra Gorda representatives.

Sierra Gorda is one of the world’s largest copper and molybdenum mines. During its ramp-up process, which is going to last until mid-2015, the daily production of copper concentrate is being gradually increased. In December, the mine is going to produce around 700 mt of concentrate per day, with a high copper content (30%) and a relatively low level of impurities.

“The quality of the copper concentrate produced in Sierra Gorda is one of the highest available on the international markets,” said Herbert Wirth, president and CEO of KGHM. “We see a significant demand for this product from copper smelters. The fact that we managed to reach this quality with the first shipment and during the mine’s ramp-up process deserves recognition and serves as a great sign for the future. I have no doubts this is just the beginning of Sierra Gorda enjoying successes and having growing impact on the global copper markets.”

After the mine’s ramp-up is completed, Sierra Gorda is going to produce 120,000 mt of copper, 50 million lb of molybdenum and 60,000 oz of gold annually. Each day, the mine will ship an average of one train with copper concentrate to the port. Half of this concentrate will be processed by Sumitomo Metal Mining, which co-owns the Sierra Gorda mine. The first shipment of concentrate, which left the port in Antofagasta on October 25, will also be processed in Sumitomo’s Toyo smelter.

“We have now added a new page to the history of the relationship between Sumitomo, Sierra Gorda and KGHM,” said Yoshiaki Nakazato, president, Sumitomo Metal Mining.

“After the mine’s expansion, 30% of copper cathodes in Toyo Smelter will originate from Sierra Gorda. I expect that the Sierra Gorda mine will be a stable source of supply of raw material to Sumitomo Metal Mining for a long time.”

A total of three ships with roughly 15,000 mt of Sierra Gorda’s copper concentrate have sailed out from the Chilean ports of Antofagasta and Arica. Two of these ships are being expected in the Chinese port of Qingdao. The fourth ship, with more than 10,000 mt of concentrate, is going to reach the port of Lianyungang in China at the beginning of 2015.