Peru expects to produce 2.8 million tonnes of copper this year, a senior official said on Monday, representing an almost 15% jump from 2022, in a bright spot for the Andean nation’s top export.
Peru, the world’s no. 2 copper producer, saw output affected since December following anti-government protests and road blockades spurred by the ouster and jailing of former President Pedro Castillo.
The mining sector is now “working as normal,” Energy and Mines Minister Oscar Vera told reporters after providing the new forecast. A Reuters analysis in early March showed that major copper mines were cranking up.
The country mined some 2.44 million tonnes of copper last year, according to ministry data.
Vera added officials are also working to reduce approval times for mining projects, from about two years to about six months.
“We hope to reach that goal by the end of the year,” he said.
Through this year and next, around $7 billion in mining investments is expected, Vera said, including the expansion of the Altamina copper mine, Teck Resources’ Zafranal project and Newmont Corp’s Yanacocha Sulfuros project.
Vera added that he expects to approve lithium exploration projects permissions “in the coming months.”
“We’ve spoken with potential investors from Canada and as a country we’re interested in industrializing another mineral,” said Vera, referring to lithium, the key rechargeable battery metal.
In August, the government formed a working group to oversee development of the ultra-light metal.
Just one lithium exploration project is currently ongoing, in southern Puno region near the border with Bolivia.
Canada’s American Lithium Corp, which operates the project, has estimated that some 4.7 million tonnes of lithium carbonate lie in the Falchani rock deposits.
Neighbors Chile, Argentina and Bolivia form a so-called “lithium triangle” believed to hold major deposits of the metal in sprawling salt flats.
(By Marco Aquino and Kylie Madry; Editing by Brendan O’Boyle, Mark Porter and Richard Chang)
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