New project approval could allow Peru to produce four million tonnes of copper annually — minister

Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, Rómulo Mucho. (Image by MINEM).

The Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, Rómulo Mucho, announced the approval of the technical report related to the $600-million Cerro Verde copper mine expansion project.

Cerro Verde, located in the southwestern Arequipa region, is responsible for almost 19% of the copper and 34% of the molybdenum produced in Peru and operates one of the world’s largest concentrating facilities with an average milling rate of more than 400,000 metric tons of ore per day. Over half of the operation is owned by Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX), while 21% is owned by SMM Cerro Verde Netherlands – a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Company- 19.58% by Compañia de Minas Buenaventura and 5.86% by other shareholders.

By 2026 and through 2044, Cerro Verde expects to deliver a targeted average mill production rate of 420,000 metric tons of ore per day by 2026 through 2044. Mining activities are projected to end in 2052 when the current reserves are expected to be exhausted.

According to Minister Mucho, this expansion paired with the development of other projects such as Panoro Minerals’ (TSXV: PML) Cotabambas, Regulus Resources’ (TSXV: REG) Antakori, Newmont’s (NYSE: NEM) Conga and Galeno, Rio Tinto (NYSE, ASX: RIO) and First Quantum Minerals’ (TSE: FM) La Granja and Southern Copper’s (NYSE: SCCO) Michiquillay will allow the Andean country produce four million tonnes of copper per year, nearing Chile’s production.

In regard to gold projects, the government official also announced the approval of a modified environmental impact assessment for the Tantahuatay project, which is held by Compañía Minera Coimolache, a company owned 40% by project operator Buenaventura (BMV: BVNN), 44% by Southern Copper (NYSE: SCCO) and 16% by ESPRO, a private company.

Tantahuatay is a heap leach gold-silver operation, mining the oxide cap of an extensive copper-gold sulphide resource located in the northwestern Cajamarca region.

During an address before the Energy and Mines Commission of the Peruvian Congress, Mucho also advertised the upcoming approval of the Pucamarca gold project, located in the southern Tacna province and operated by Minsur, a company owned by Breca, one of the country’s top investment groups.

“The Ministry of Energy and Mines promotes sustainable mining projects in the country because mining is the main support of our economy,” Mucho said. “This activity generates large resources so that infrastructure and electrification projects, among others, can be carried out to improve the quality of life of Peruvians.”