Teck to name partner in Chilean copper project in December

Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.A | TECK.B)(NYSE:TCK), Canada’s largest diversified miner, plans to announce in December which company will be its development partner at the Quebrada Blanca copper mine in northern Chile.

In August, the Vancouver-based miner received regulatory approval for a $4.8 billion extension of the mine. Teck sees the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project as its most significant growth opportunity, with the potential to double its copper business.

A potential third expansion will make the Quebrada Blanca mine Chile’s second largest copper operation, after Escondida, and one of the world’s top five copper mines.

According to Chilean paper El Mercurio, Teck’s CEO Don Lindsay said the company was also studying a Phase 3 for the mine, which will double Quebrada Blanca’s capacity to 600,000 tonnes of copper a year from the 300,000 it’s expected to achieve once Phase 2 is completed.

That potential extension will make the mine Chile’s second largest copper operation, after Escondida, and situate it among the world’s top five copper mines.

In terms of costs, Phase 3 would need a $5 billion-investment, as it would have to include the installation of a new concentrator.

Last year, Quebrada Blanca produced 23,400 tonnes of copper, generating a $182 million revenue.

Teck is considering selling a 30% to 40% stake in the project, with Rio Tinto, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and Freeport-McMoRan rumoured to be the most likely bidders.

The company owns 90% of the mine and Chile’s national mining company ENAMI holds a 10% preference share interest in it, which does not require the state agency to fund capital spending.