Codelco to invest $720 million more in Chuquicamata copper mine

Chuquicamata is the world’s largest open pit copper mine. (Courtesy of Codelco via Flickr)

Chile’s state-owned Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, submitted an environmental permit request on Thursday to modify its Chuquicamata Subterranea project at a cost of $720 million.

“The general objective of the project is to incorporate optimizations to the original project and modifications in order to ensure that the operation of MCHS (Chuquicamata) can reach the authorized production” of 140,000 tons per day, the request read.

The modifications include two new extraction tunnels for ventilation, fuel and electricity installations, new haulage sublevels and an access tunnel.

Chuquicamata Subterranea is an ambitious project to extend the open-pit copper mine’s lifespan by converting it into an underground operation. The project has faced years of significant delays and cost overruns.

Codelco’s production has fallen to its lowest level in 25 years due to operational problems and delays in its expansion projects, but its top executives have given assurances that production will begin to recover this year.

(By Fabián Andrés Cambero and Alexander Villegas; Editing by Richard Chang)


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