Antofagasta's Los Pelambres mine is safe — Chile’s court

Antofagasta's Los Pelambres mine is safe — Chile’s court

Los Pelambres remains Antofagasta’s flagship mine, producing over 55% of the total group output.
(Image courtesy of Antofagasta)

A Chilean court has handed a key victory to London-listed Antofagasta Plc. (LON:ANTO) this week by ruling the miner’s flagship Los Pelambres copper mine, located 200km north of capital Santiago, is safe.

In a press release (in Spanish), the company said La Serena appeals court unanimously rejected a lawsuit presented by residents of the local Caimanes community in central Chile, which claimed the massive tailing dam had dried up a local stream and contaminated underground water.

"This ruling backs our conviction that the El Mauro tailings dam does not represent a risk for people's safety and health," said the mine's chairman, Francisco Veloso, in the statement.

However, a separate court has not decided on Antofagasta’s appeal to a March ruling that ordered the miner to knock down part, or all, of the tailings dam wall.

Unloading non-core businesses

Also this week, Antofagasta announced it had sold its water business in Chile for almost $1 billion to Colombia’s Empresas Públicas de Medellín.

The sale highlights miners’ eagerness to shed non-core assets in order to weather a commodities downturn that has deepened over the past three years.

Antofagasta’s chief executive, Diego Hernández, said the move would allow the company to “focus even more closely on its mining business and to advance its various development projects, whilst reinforcing the strength of our balance sheet”.

The miner, which plans to spend close to $1.3 billion in capital projects this year after $1.6bn of capex in 2014, is in the middle of a sequence brownfield expansions at its Chilean operations.

Antofagasta is also due to begin production at its $1.9 billion Antucoya mine this year, generating 80,000 tonnes of copper cathodes annually.