Main copper producer Chile expects record output thanks to BHP and Codelco

Chile, the world’s main copper producing country, said Monday output is likely to reach a record high this year as BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) ramps up supply and state-owned Codelco starts a new mine in the Atacama Desert.

Based on the report published by the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco), the South American nation expects to generate 5.59 million tons of red metal this year, up 3% from 2012 levels.

The country also forecasts world copper supply exceeding demand by 56,000 tons this year and 68,000 tons in 2014.

BHP is increasing production at its Escondida mine, in Chile’s arid north, over 20%, while State’s owned Codelco is aiming to lift output to 1.7 million tons with activity starting at its Ministro Hales mine, reports Diario Financiero (in Spanish).

In terms of prices for the commodity, Cochilco sees copper prices averaging $3.57 per pound this year, unchanged from a previous estimate, before dropping to around $3.32 per pound in 2014.

Chile supplies nearly one-third of the world's copper demand.

Earlier this month, the country announced it was delaying copper and gold projects worth $39 billion.

(Image copyright: Jeff Schultes)

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