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Chile mining set for two break-out years as $14bn projects come on stream

Not just copper

In Chile $14.5 billion in gold, iron and copper mining projects will come on stream this year and next.

Chile produces almost a third of the global output of copper, but in recent years production has been mostly static.

Things are set to change this year with the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) saying the South American nation should generate 5.58 million tonnes of red metal this year, an increase of some 340,000 tonnes compare to 2011 and up 3% from last year.

Minería Chilena reports Lumina Copper will initiate production of copper at the end of February at its $3 billion Caserones project.

The Ministro Hales mine, owned by state-run Codelco, will kick off production at the end of 2013 – the $2.5 billion project is expected to produce 200,000 tonnes of copper annually.

A report from Cochilco shows that Codelco decreased fine copper production at its wholly-owned mines by 89,000 tonnes in 2012, a 5.1% drop from 2011.

KGHM will start copper production at its $3.9 billion Sierra Gorda mine in 2014.

It’s not only copper projects that will come on stream.

This year iron ore producer CAP will be expanding operations at its Los Colorados mine and initiate production at the Cerro Negro Norte at a cost of $1.2 billion.

Barrick Gold said it is spending $1.8 billion on construction at its Pascua Lama project straddling the border with Argentina and is still on track to pour the first gold in the second half of 2014.

Barrick, the globe’s top gold producer, has already sunk $2.8 billion into the ambitious project and in July last year announced a 50-60% cost blow-out for the mine which could end up with a final bill of as much as $8 billion.

Image of Monument to Political Forces in Valparaiso by Francisco Martins.