Chilean copper miner Codelco is reportedly planning to commence construction on the $1.38bn Rajo Inca project in the coming few weeks.

The project aims to overhaul the company’s ageing Salvador mine and add 47 years to the mine’s life. It involves the conversion of the mine to an open-cast mine from an underground one.

Codelco was reported by Reuters as saying: “We will begin work in the next few weeks, in order to reach production of 90,000t in the first half of 2023.”

As part of the project, the company will undertake a 22-month pre-stripping period, which involves the extraction of rock without commercial or sterile value that covers the mineral reserves, as well as a seven-month ramp-up of the concentrator plant.

The investment is part of Codelco’s ten-year, $40bn initiative, which aims to upgrade its ageing mines.

With commissioning planned to start in the second half of next year, the Rajo Inca project is expected to create 2,476 jobs a day at peak and once commissioned the average workforce will be 973 people a day.

Commissioned in 1959, the Salvador mine has the lowest productivity compared with the copper miner’s other deposits, according to the news agency.

Codelco’s board of directors approved the plan and financing of the Rajo Inca project in January 2021.

In a press statement, Codelco earlier stated: “When it enters operations, Rajo Inca will require between 25 and 30 300t capacity trucks, hydraulic shovels and large tonnage front loaders, most of the equipment coming from other Codelco divisions.”