Chile’s Codelco to boost production at El Teniente copper mine

The new mine level being built will extend the El Teniente mine’s life by 50 years. (Image courtesy of Codelco |

Chile’s state miner Codelco, the world’s No.1 copper producer, plans to boost production at its El Teniente mine to more than 500,000 tonnes per year by 2025, a first in the operation’s history.

The production increase would position the mine, which produced 465,000 tonnes of the red metal in 2018, among the world’s five largest copper operations, local paper El Mercurio reports.

El Teniente is the world’s biggest underground copper mine and the sixth largest by reserve size

As part of the plan, Codelco — which hands over all of its profits to the state — aims at raising the annual surplus generated by the El Teniente division by 20%. Currently it contributes about $1 billion.

The miner also expects to reduce the division’s cash costs, with the goal of setting them at $1 per pound of copper.

El Teniente is the world’s biggest underground copper mine and the sixth largest by reserve size. Located 80km south of Santiago in the Andes mountain range in Chile, the facility is undergoing an extensive $3.4 billion-expansion project called El Teniente New Mine Level project to extend its productive life by 50 years.

The expansion, expected to be completed in 2023, is part of an ambitious, 10-year, $39 billion investment drive at Codelco to open new projects and overhaul older mines.

The state-miner holds vast copper deposits, accounting for 10% of the world’s known proven and probable reserves and about 11% of the global annual copper output with 1.8 million tonnes of production.