Codelco may partly privatize some assets, executive says

Image courtesy of Codelco via Flickr

Chile’s Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, is preparing to offer the market some “non-core” exploration assets, signaling a rare privatization for the state-owned mining firm, a senior executive said on Monday.

Patricio Vergara, vice president of mining resources and development at Codelco, said the hived-off assets could become eventual partnerships, which would mark a new model for the firm in Chile.

“We could make some kind of association with those companies that are interested in investing in joint development,” Vergara said during a presentation at the CRU-CESCO World Copper Conference.

Vergara did not give technical details of the projects or a timeframe for the company’s plans to offer the assets.

The executive said that the firm’s nascent lithium mining push was advancing at a slightly slower pace than expected. Chile is the world’s second-largest producer of the ultra-light battery metal that is key for the global electric vehicle market.

“We’ve seen permitting, approval times have been a little bit longer than we thought. There have been higher drilling costs,” he said.

In February, Codelco said it would start drilling in the Salar de Maricunga by late March, and that it would last about 10 months.

(By Fabian Cambero; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Paul Simao)

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