Antofagasta copper veteran Hernandez retires, Arriagada named new CEO

Los Pelambres remains Antofagasta’s flagship mine, producing over 55% of the total group output. (Image from archives)

Chile-focused copper miner Antofagasta Plc (LON:ANTO) announced Friday that Diego Hernandez is retiring as chief executive of the company and will be succeeded by Ivan Arriagada effective immediately.

Arriagada took the helm of operating unit Antofagasta Minerals in February last year, at the same time as Hernandez moved from that role to run the parent company, owned by the Luksic family, one of Chile’s richest.

Hernandez, 67, will stay on as an adviser to the board, the company said., adding that the new CEO, 52, has 25 years of operational and financial experience in the mining and oil and gas industries.

Arriagada, 52, has 25 years of operational and financial experience in the mining and oil and gas industries.

Like most copper miners, Antofagasta has been hit by a sustained commodities rout, becoming one of the worst-performers last year in the U.K.’s benchmark stock index. Last month, the company scrapped its dividend and promised to slash production costs further this year, while increasing production to compensate for lower prices.

The miner has also been affected by declining ore grades, unfavourable weather and operational disruptions caused by protesters concerned about water shortages in the area around its flagship Los Pelambres mine, located 200km north of capital Santiago.

Last year, the company merged two of its most promising copper operations in Chile’s north under a new company, Minera Centinela.

Antofagasta is one of the oldest companies listed in London. It is also one of the many companies expanding output in the next few years. Currently, the firm has majority stakes in four Chilean copper mines — Los Pelambres (60%), El Tesoro (70%), Michilla (74.2%) and Esperanza (74.2%).

The firm is also conducting exploration activities in Peru, while its owner — the Luksic group — holds exploration and mining ventures in Europe, Turkey, Australia, Africa and across the Americas.

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