Chile’s Codelco, the world’s top copper producer, plans to invest an additional $720 million revamping its century-old Chuquicamata copper mine, in an effort to stop the company’s overall production decline.
Codelco, which is also in the process of spending $1.3 billion in related infrastructure, is now seeking environmental approval for design adjustments and complementary works, according to a document posted on the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA) website.
The proposed operational changes, both underground and at the surface level, “will not alter the extraction and processing speeds originally authorized for the project”, according to the submission.
Codelco, which hands over all of its profits to the state, holds vast copper deposits, accounting for 10% of the world’s known proven and probable reserves.
The miner’s new chief executive officer, Ruben Alvarado, has been tasked with boosting production levels.
Last year, the company produced 1.45 million tonnes of copper, a decline from the 1.618 million tonnes it churned out in 2021. It is expected to produce this year nearly 1.315 million tonnes of copper, which would be the lowest level in 25 years.
Alvarado has said that fresh plans, already in motion, will boost output in 2024 to around 1.34 million tonnes.