Chile’s Codelco hiring for underground expansion of Chuquicamata

Chile’s Codelco, the world’s top copper producer, will begin Monday accepting applications from people interested to work in one of the company’s flagship projects — the much-needed underground expansion of its century-old Chuquicamata mine.

About 150 workers will be pre-selected as a result of the process, which closes on Dec. 24, local paper El Mercurio de Calama reported (in Spanish).

Chuquicamata is one of Codelco’s largest, but also oldest operations.

They’ll join the over 1,100 Codelco employees already working on the expansion project, originally approved in 2010, and modified earlier this year.

Taking Chuquicamata underground is one Codelco’s most important projects included an ambitious investment plan, originally pegged at $25 billion (now sitting at about $18bn), aimed at upgrading the company’s aging mines and dealing with dwindling ore grades.

The copper giant is expected to spend a total of $4 billion in the underground expansion, to be completed in 2019, and which will allow Chuquicamata to remain in operations. Once at full tilt, by 2025, the mine is expected to produce 1.7 million tonnes of the red metal a year.

Codelco generates around a tenth of the global copper supply and it has been one of the main forces behind Chile’s transition from one of Latin America’s poorest countries to one of the richest over the past 40 years.

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