BHP eyes $10 billion Chilean investments, but only with ‘legal certainty’

Spence Copper Mine, Chile – Image courtesy of BHP

BHP Group Ltd said on Tuesday it will invest more than $10 billion in Chile to fuel growth in the world’s largest copper producing nation for the next 50 years, but only under certain regulatory and fiscal situations.

Chile, which supplies nearly a quarter of the world’s copper, recently elected a new leftist government, is redrafting its constitution and considering raising its mining royalty to fund expanded social programs. Several copper miners have paused investment decisions in the country while the political negotiations play out.

“We love Chile. We would like to stay here. We would like to grow in this country. But in order to do that, it will require fiscal stability, legal certainty and a clear pathway to permit,” Ragnar Udd, BHP’s president of minerals, Americas, told the CRU-CESCO World Copper Conference in Santiago.

BHP already operates Chile’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine.

Udd spoke at the conference not long after Marcela Hernando Pérez, the new Chilean mining minister, who said that Santiago does not plan to nationalize the country’s mining sector. Perez had left by the time Udd spoke.

Udd said that the investments from BHP would fund a new concentrator and leach processing facilities, new mining areas and projects to help reduce the company’s carbon emissions.

“I hope that I’ve convinced you today that under the right investment conditions, we can deliver copper to support the world of the future in a way that is sustainable and create social value for the communities and societies in which we operate,” Udd said.

(By Ernest Scheyder and Fabian Cambero; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


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