A $20 billion pipeline of China-backed mining projects in Peru is set to place the country back in the second position among the world’s largest copper producers by 2016.
The biggest push came from China Minmetals’ MMG subsidiary last month, with its $7 billion acquisition of Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) flagship Las Bambas copper project, in the southern part of the country.
Ironically, by investing in Peru, Asian capitals are helping the nation take over China as the world’s No. 2 producer of the red metal, a title the South American country lost in 2012.
Currently China’s output stands at about 1.6 million tonnes per year, well below the nearly 5.8 million annual tonnes produced by Chile, the world’s leader, based on data provided by CRU Consulting earlier this year.
Peru’s energy and mining minister, Eleodoro Mayorga Alba, has repeatedly said the country’s total production will hit 2.8 million tonnes in 2016, up from 1.4 million tonnes in 2013. This, thanks major projects slated to begin operations by or during that year.
Freeport-McMoRan’s (NYSE:FCX) Cerro Verde’s $4.6bn expansion: Scheduled for completion during the first quarter of 2016, with initial production to begin next year;
Southern Copper’s (NYSE, LON:SCCO) $1bn Tía María mine, near Arequipa, which received final approval earlier this month, after being halted for almost three years due to opposition from nearby communities concerned about the mine’s use of water;
Chinalco’s (HKG: 3668) $4.82bn Toromocho copper mine, currently undergoing an expansion;
Minmetals and Jiangxi’s $2.5bn El Galeno, a copper, gold and silver project.
Other Chinese mining investments in Peru include a $1.5bn expansion of iron ore mine by Shougang Hierro Peru in Marcona, and Jinzhao Mining’s planned $3.28bn investment in Pampa de Pongo, also an iron ore mine.