Codelco unveils new copper deposits holding over 1,800 million tonnes

Codelco unveils new copper deposits holding over 1,800 million tonnes

The most promising deposits were found by El Teniente, the world’s largest underground copper mine.

Chile’s State-owned Codelco has revealed that in the last four years it has found new copper deposits nearby current operations, which hold about 1,875 million tonnes of high-grade ore located between 500 to 1,000 meters underground.

Speaking at the World Copper Summit 2014 in Santiago, CEO Thomas Keller said the copper giant invested $60 million in exploration last year, 70% of which was allocated to brownfields exploration — that conducted within close proximity to known ore deposits.

The most important results were obtained close to El Teniente, the world’s largest underground copper mine located about 120 km south of Santiago. The deposit, named La Huifa, could yield more than 200 million tonnes of ore grading 1% copper and 550 ppm of molybdenum, El Diario reports (in Spanish).

Significant results were obtained at La Americana, Cerro Negro and Copa Sur, adjacent to Codelco’s Andina division, which according to the company show a potential of 600, 1,000 and 75 million tonnes of copper ore respectively.

The miner, the world’s No.1 copper producer, warned in January it needs a fresh cash injection, as it is missing about $1 billion of the $5 billion it plans to pour into sprucing up its massive but ageing mines this year.

Codelco hands all its profits back to the state, which later how much to re-allocate to the firm, often creating uncertainty in the run-up to the announcement and at times spurring disagreement over how much is ultimately assigned.

Chile expects mining investment to reach $112 billion by 2021, figure that includes the $27 billion planned by Codelco. By the same year, the country’s total copper production is projected to reach an annual 8.1 million metric tons.

The red metal accounts for 60% of Chile's exports and 15% of gross domestic product.

Analysts worry the market is heading for a moderate surplus this year, as global production continues to increase and concerns over underlying Chinese demand and the sustainability of the copper financing trade have imparted downward pressure on copper prices, which crashed to a near-four year low last month.

Image courtesy of Codelco via Flickr.