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Codelco Appoints New CEO to Revitalize Chile Copper Mines

Chilean mining company Codelco has appointed Nelson Pizarro as its new CEO to spearhead its $25 billion pursuit of restoring the state-owned company. Pi...

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|Aug 1|magazine4 min read

Chilean mining company Codelco has appointed Nelson Pizarro as its new CEO to spearhead its $25 billion pursuit of restoring the state-owned company. Pizarro will take over reigns as chief executive officer effective September 1.

After ousting previous CEO Thomas Keller in June, Codelco sought a candidate to oversee development of two of the world’s largest underground mines. Pizarro, who once ran Codelco’s Andina and Chuquicamata mines, will be asked to lead the company in resurrecting Codelco’s ageing mines and diminishing ore grades along with carrying out the biggest investment plan in Codelco’s history.

"The challenges of Codelco are so big and of such magnitude that probably for those conditions Nelson Pizarro is the right person at the moment," said Juan Carlos Guajardo, head of mining think tank CESCO.

Pizarro, who has over 50 years experience in the industry, recently developed the $4.2 billion Caserones copper mines in the Atacama Desert for Japan’s Pan Pacific Copper Co.

Codelco is looking to revitalize it operations while maintaining profits from its two open-pit copper mines. The company is looking to extend operations underground at its Chuquicamata mine as well as turning the world’s largest underground mine, El Teniente, into an open-pit operation.

In addition to transforming operations, Pizarro will be asked to deal with the idiosyncrasies of running a state-run company.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is set to announce a plan for Codelco that will allocate funds to carry out investments the company needs to avoid losing its 40 year long ranking as the world’s top-ranked copper producer.  

Copper currently accounts for 60 percent of Chile’s exports and 15 percent of gross domestic product.