Chile’s state-owned copper miner Codelco is seeking an environmental permit to extend the operational life of its Ministro Hales mine with an investment of $2.5bn (2.1trn pesos), reported Reuters.

The copper producer has submitted the request to extend the mine operations by 30 years.

The expansion aims to boost the mine’s copper concentrate production capacity from the current 700,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) to 830,000tpa.

With the expansion project, Codelco will also increase the mineral processing rate at the site from an annual average of 57,000 tonnes per day (tpd) to 65,000tpd.

Codelco was quoted by Reuters as saying: “(Ministro Hales) will maintain the currently approved production process, mineral extraction in an open pit mine and waste disposal in a dump, mineral processing in a concentrator plant, roasting of part of the concentrate produced and disposal of tailings.”

Located in the northern city of Calama, the Ministro Hales mine reported production of 152,000t of copper in 2022.

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By GlobalData

The move comes days after Codelco agreed to partner with mining company Rio Tinto to explore and develop the copper assets of Chilean company Agua de la Falda (ADLF).

Earlier this week, Rio Tinto agreed to acquire a 57.75% interest in ADLF for $45.55m.

Codelco owns a 42.26% stake in ADLF, which owns the historical Jeronimo project in the Atacama region, as well as several adjoining concessions.

Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said: “Chile, for its part, is and will continue to be one of the most important sources of copper supply worldwide, in a scenario in which the demand for copper is expected to increase due to the development of renewable energies and electrification.

“Finding better ways to provide the materials the world needs requires strategic alliances, and we are pleased to make our exploration capabilities, knowledge and technologies available to ADLF, together with Codelco’s valuable experience and significant local presence.”