Antofagasta, a UK-headquartered copper mining firm, is evaluating the construction of a new concentrator plant at its Centinela mine in Chile.

The company’s chief executive Ivan Arriagada told local newspaper La Tercera that the construction of the plant is expected to cost anywhere between $2.7bn and $3bn.

The firm’s copper output grew by 3% to 725,300t in 2018, which enabled the firm to explore expansion of existing projects and undertake upgrades, reported Reuters.

Arriagada told La Tercera: “The best option is to build a new concentrator plant [at Centinela], and we’re in the feasibility stage of that initiative.”

Antofagasta estimated that its copper production will increase to between 750,000 and 790,000t this year.

The firm’s copper production in Q4 2018 was 16.8% higher than the previous quarter due to increased production at all of its operations, especially at Centinela Concentrates where the output surged by 68.3%.

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By GlobalData

Its full year copper production was at the higher end of revised guidance, witnessing a 3% increase compared to 2017 due to higher production at Los Pelambres and Centinela.

In Q4, throughput at Centinela Concentrates was 6% above design capacity, at 111,100t per day.

For the quarter, gold production stood at 90,000 ounces, a 87.1% increase from the previous quarter due to higher throughput, grades and recoveries at Centinela. The full year production of gold was 210,100 ounces, which is at the higher end of forecast.

The company expects its production for 2019 to be 240-260,000 ounces of gold and 11,500-12,500 tonnes of molybdenum.

Capital expenditure is expected to be $1.2bn including the Los Pelambres expansion project.

Following completion of the expansion, production at the mine is expected to increase by 60,000t of copper per annum.

Antofagasta expects production start-up in the second half of 2021 at the project.