China-backed miner MMG Ltd has made a first shipment of 10,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from its Peru-based Las Bambas mine, one of the world’s largest producers of the metal, to China.
The Australia-based company, controlled by China Minmetals Corp, aims to become a mid-tier base metals producer. With that goal in mind, it bought the Las Bambas project in 2014 from commodity giant Glencore (LON:GLEN) for $5.85 billion.
But the mine, which is expected to churn out over 200,000 tonnes of copper this year, and close to 400,000 tonnes in 2017, is coming online just as copper prices are trading at their lowest levels in over six years.
The mine, located at 4,000 metres in the south of the South American country, will also produce significant amounts of silver, gold and molybdenum over its 20-year mine life.
Opponents to the mine staged violent protests in September, which left at least four dead and several injured. The government reached a deal with community leaders in October, overcoming objections over MMG’s changes to the project’s original environmental impact study.
Peru has been the favoured destination for copper investment in recent years.
New mines in Peru coming on stream this year are expected to double production to 2.8 million tonnes, placing the country in second place globally behind Chile.
Mining accounts for 12% of Peru’s GDP and 57% of its exports.