Southern Copper's $1.2bn Peru mine expansion ready by year-end

Southern Copper's (NYSE:SCCO) $1.2 billion expansion of its Toquepala open-pit mine in southern Tacna, Peru, will be ready by the end of the year and in operations early 2018, the company said.

The company’s president and chief executive Óscar González Rocha told local media Wednesday (in Spanish) the project, which will allow the firm double the mine’s output, is 40% complete.

He noted the output increase will come mostly as a result of increasing the capacity of the mine's copper concentrator to 120,000 tonnes per day from 60,000.

The expansion of Toquepala will boost its output by 10,000 tonnes a year while generating 4,000 temporary jobs.

According to the Grupo Mexico-controlled company, the expansion of Toquepala will boost its output by 10,000 tonnes a year while generating 4,000 temporary jobs.

Toquepala is the world’s fifth biggest copper mine. It also produces molybdenum, silver gold and zinc.

Peru is the world's second biggest producer of copper and silver and a major producer of gold, zinc, lead and other minerals. The country’s extractive sector, which accounts for some 60% of the economy, is expected to bring $50 billion to the local economy in future investment over the next decade. However, it has been beset by widespread protests against mining projects for years.

Southern Copper was formed in 1952 as Southern Peru Copper Corporation, which began operations at Toquepala in 1960. In late 1999, Grupo Mexico acquired the company’s main shareholder — Asarco. In 2005, it merged with Minera Mexico, Mexican arm of Grupo Mexico, creating the current company.

Southern Copper's $1.2bn Peru mine expansion ready by year-end

The Toquepala mine from the International Space Station on September 22, 2003. At the surface the open pit is 2.5 kilometers across, and more than 700 meters deep. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)