Codelco to be one of the world’s top ten silver producers

Codelco to be one of the world’s top ten silver producersChilean state-owned Codelco is poised to become one of the world’s ten largest silver producers as soon as its touted Ministro Hales mine begins production next year.

The nearly $3 billion copper-silver mine is expected to add 300 tons of the precious grey material to the existing silver output from the rest of Codelco’s operations in the country.

The company, which is already the world’s No. 1 cooper producer and owns over 11% of the world’s copper reserves, is expected to kick off operations at Ministro Hales mine early next year, reaching full production during the first half of 2014.

According to Codelco, the mine will by itself add 180,000 tonnes to global copper supply next year, helping to counteract declining ore grades in the company’s other mines.

CEO Thomas Keller said in a press release Tuesday (in Spanish) that Codelco expects it 2013 output to come in slightly ahead of last year, when it produced roughly 1.65 million tonnes, not considering the El Abra and Anglo American Sur operations.