Chile's Codelco receives approval for $1 bln desalination plant

SANTIAGO, March 8 (Reuters) – Chile's state-owned mining company Codelco, the largest copper producer in the world, received environmental approval this week to build a $1 billion desalination plant to supply water to its operations in the country's northern region.

The go-ahead from the Antofagasta region's environmental regulator will allow the company to expand its Radomiro Tomic mine and advance with an ambitious investment plan in its water-intensive mining operations in one of the driest deserts in the world.

The plant would be the second-largest desalination plant in the South American country, behind the one supplying BHP's Escondida copper mine, the largest in the world. Chile is the world's No. 1 exporter of the red metal.

(Reporting by Fabián Andrés Cambero; Writing by Luc Cohen)