Peru’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Eleodoro Mayorga Alba, told reporters that the country is on pace to double its current copper production by 2016 and regain its position as the second largest producer of copper in the world.
The expansion of Freeport-McMoRan’s Cerro Verde copper project is one of the key projects in the revival. The expansion, scheduled to be completed in 2016 at a cost of $4.6 billion is about 22 percent complete and initial production is scheduled to begin in 2015.
With this project, the country’s total production will hit 2.8 Mt (3.1 million st) in 2016, up from 1.4 Mt (1.5 million st) in 2013, thanks to five major projects slated to begin operations that year, Mining.com reported.
Another card up Peru’s sleeve is Southern Copper’s controversial $1 billion Tía María Mine, which is expected to begin production in March 2016.
Currently China is the second largest producer of copper, with an annual output of about 1.6 Mt/a (1.7 million stpy), well below the nearly 5.8 Mt/a (6.4 million st) produced by Chile, the world’s leader, based on data provided by CRU Consulting.
Global copper producers — being Chile's Codelco the largest, followed by Freeport-McMoRan, Glencore and BHP Billiton — plan expansions of mine capacity that would add between 1.1 Mt and 1.3 Mt (1.2 and 1.4 million stpy) of copper to the market until 2016.
Such increases would be roughly equivalent to the annual output of Chile's Escondida, the world’s largest mine, which provides about 5 percent of the world supply.
Peru’s steady growth in recent years has been largely driven by mineral production. Last year the country injected $9.7 billion to the local economy coming from mining, jumping 14% when compared to 2012.
Authorities have said they expect to reach similar levels by the end of this year, as there is still there is plenty for everyone to get a descent piece of the resources pie. Peru holds13 percent of the world's copper reserves, 4 percent of gold, 22 percent of silver, 7.6 percent of zinc, 9 percent of lead and 6 percent of tin reserves.