Codelco appeals to Chilean government for copper project funding

March 31, 2014

As Chile’s copper market faces slumping demand from China and lower prices than a year ago Codelco plans to turn to Chile’s newly-elected President Michelle Bachelet to continue financing record investments designed to stem output declines at its aging mines.

Codelco chief executive officer Thomas Keller will present his investment plan to the government by the end of the month. The government approves state-owned Codelco’s three-year revolving plan in June each year, Bloomberg reported.

Keller previously said Codelco must spend more than $20 billion on revamping mines to avoid a 50 percent production slump.

The proposed “investments will be in the range of what we have estimated and what we are currently executing in terms of our structural projects,” Keller said.

Codelco’s output from its own mines slid 1.5 percent last year to 1.62 million tons. Total production rose 2 percent to 1.79 million tons because of minority stakes it owns in Anglo American Plc’s Sur division in central Chile and the El Abra mine it operates with Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

China’s economy will continue to grow at 7 percent to 8 percent a year while the country’s copper demand growth will be “slightly less than that,” he said. The metal’s long-term fundamentals are “solid,” the company said in a statement accompanying annual results.

Copper futures for delivery in May rose 1.5 percent to $3.039 a pound at 10:18 a.m. on the Comex in New York, heading for the biggest weekly advance since September, on speculation that demand will rise as the government takes steps to bolster growth in China, the world’s biggest consumer. The metal has slumped 10 percent this year.

The global copper market will have a small surplus in 2014 akin to last year, he said. Codelco will increase its production this year, Keller said, without elaborating.

Codelco produces about a 10th of the world’s copper and owns 9 percent of the world’s proven reserves of the metal used in power cables and electrical wire.


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