The Antucoya copper project in Chile, a $1.3 billion project that is expected to produced an average of 80 kt/a (88,000 stpy) of copper cathode, will be developed by London-based Antofagasta PLC.
The large, low-grade oxide copper deposit is located 45 km from the Antofagasta’s Michilla operation in Chile’s Antofagasta Region.
The project contains proven and probable ore reserves of 642 Mt of 0.35 percent copper. “While the project will be one of the lowest copper-grade green-field projects to be developed in Chile, there are a number of compensating factors,” said Antofagasta.
The deposit is relatively shallow, which will lower pre-stripping and operational waste-to-ore ratios. It is located in a well-developed mining area with good pre-existing infrastructure. The operation will use untreated seawater in its process. A sulphur-burning plant will be constructed to supply sulfuric acid to the operation, reducing the overall cost of the acid supply.
Construction of the project is expected to take two and a half years, with a production ramp up expected to commence in 2014.
Antofagasta also announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan's Marubeni Corporation, which intends to become a 30 percent partner in the Antucoya project for a US$350 million investment and a commitment to fund its pro rate share of development costs for the project.
Antofagasta's four Chilean operations are expected to yield 620,000 to 640,000 t of copper, 200,000 to 215,000 oz of gold, and 10,600 t of molybdenum this year. Overall copper production has been projected to increase more than 60 percent from 2009 to 2012 with a total of 720,000 t of copper production in 2012.