Codelco is looking to privatise some of its assets, with plans to offer certain non-core exploration assets to the market, Reuters reported citing the firm’s vice-president of mining resources and development Patricio Vergara.

According to Vergara, these assets could become eventual partnerships.

However, he did not disclose timelines for the move.

During a presentation at the CRU-CESCO World Copper Conference, Vergara noted: “We could make some kind of association with those companies that are interested in investing in joint development.”

The move would serve as a new model for the Chilean state-owned copper miner.

Furthermore, he noted that the miner’s nascent lithium mining initiative was progressing at a slightly slower pace than originally anticipated.

Vergara was quoted as saying by the news agency: “We’ve seen permitting, approval times have been a little bit longer than we thought. There have been higher drilling costs.”

Chile is said to be the second-largest producer of lithium worldwide.

Last month, Codelco unveiled plans to start lithium exploration at the Salar de Maricunga salt flat in Chile’s Atacama Region by March.

The exploration will be conducted over a maximum period of ten months.

Meanwhile, Codelco awarded a contract to Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions in January 2022 to provide the AutoMine load and haul automation system for Chile’s El Teniente mine.