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Antofagasta expects $1.3 billion Los Pelambres expansion project to begin construction in 2019

One of the biggest copper producers in Chile looks set to grow even bigger, thanks to a multi-billion-dollar mine expansion.

Antofagasta has announced this week that it fully expects its $1.3 billion expansion of its Los Pelambres copper mine to be approved by the close of 2018, with a 2019 construction date targeted.

Speaking at a mining industry forum, Antofagasta’s CEO Ivan Arriagada said that the expansion project had received environmental regulatory approval back in February 2018 and awaits the decision from its board.

Los Pelambres is a sulphide deposit in Chile’s Coquimbo region, 240 km north-east of Santiago. It produces copper concentrate (containing gold and silver) and molybdenum concentrate through a milling and flotation process.

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The expansion project includes a desalination plant at its port facility in Los Vilos, and new ore mills and related infrastructure at the mine itself.

“This project also involves construction of a new concentrator line at Los Pelambres, and when complete will add 55,000 tonnes of copper to our annual production, bringing total production to over 400,000 tonnes a year,” said Jean-Paul Luksic, Chairman of Antofagasta.

Copper production was 343,800 tonnes in 2017, with Antofagasta forecasting around 345,000-355,000 oz Copper and 60,000-70,000 oz of gold for 2018.

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