Chile delays copper, gold projects worth $39bn

Chile’s Copper Commission (COCHILCO) said the country is delaying 11 of the 45 mining copper and gold projects considered in the total 2012 portfolio for the nation, reports Minera Andina.

The measure means a deferred investment of $38.9 billion, 37.3% of the total value, which was $104.3 billion as of June 2012.

From the postponed projects, seven are copper and four are gold ones. The red metal ventures include the expansion of Phase III Collahuasi, Hypogene Quebrada Blanca, Relincho, Inca de Oro, San Antonio oxides, Santo Domingo and Phase II Andina. The four delayed gold ventures are Barrick’s Pascua Lama and Cerro Casale, Goldcorp’s disputed El Morro and Kinross Gold’s Lobo Marte.

Right before Christmas, London-listed Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) became the latest copper miner to shelve expansion plans in 2012.

COCHILCO said that internal and external factors are to blame. In the first group, the authority named the difficulties in ensuring power supplies below current costs, improving the environmental impact assessment and obtaining permits to build infrastructure required for the project.

Among the internal factors, the commission said that the high costs of some of those projects, such as Pascua-Lama, have forced miners to re-evaluate their respective projects.

Output in the industry – around 16 million tonnes of concentrate per annum – have been largely static for a number of years, but vast new supplies were supposed to come on stream in 2013 and next year. It seems the market will have to wait longer.

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