Chile’s Pampa Camarones copper mine is up for sale

Thee open-pit mining of the Salamaqueja mine considers deepening the current pit of the Pampa Camarones mining project. (Image courtesy of Pampa Camarones.)

Chilean private equity fund Minería Activa has put its Pampa Camarones copper mine up for sale in the country’s far north amid an ongoing price rally that saw the bellwether metal passing $10,000 a tonne this week for the first time since 2011.

The firm, which acquired the operation in 2016 after its previous owners declared it bankrupt, made the decision to sell it earlier this year, receiving expressions of interest from firms from Chile, the US, Asia and Oceania. 

Minería Activa has not disclosed the value of the asset, but MINING[dot]COM understands that the firm has already selected a handful of potential buyers, most of them without operations in the copper-rich country.

Minería Activa has already selected a handful of potential buyers, most of them without current operations in the copper-rich country

Sources familiar with the process told MINING[dot]COM the decision to sell Pampa Camarones was independent of the current copper price’s spike, adding that the firm expects to close the sale later this year. 

“Minería Activa bought the mine with the purpose of adding value to it and put it back in operations; now it’s ready to sell it,” sources said.

South Korea’s Samsung made its debut in Chile’s mining sector in 2011 with the acquisition and development of Pampa Camarones open pit mine in the northern Arica-Parinacota region.

The mine operated at a loss for two years until the company decided to shelve it and sell it to Minería Activa.

Plans to triple output

The mine was reactivated in 2019, after Mitsui & Co invested $10 million, becoming the only copper operation in Chile’s northernmost region.

Last year’s production was 8,400 tonnes of copper cathodes, all of which were sent to Mitsui under the offtake agreement. 

The company has also kicked off studies to expand the mine, both deepening the current pit and extending the underground section. Those plans would allow it to triple current output.

Despite wide-spread civil unrest in Chile last year to protest to social inequality and the life-changing covid-19 pandemic, the company sold more than $70 million, with an EBITA of $50 million.

About 80% of the mine workers are locals, with a high and increasing number of women. The operation uses mostly sea water and solar power.

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *