Southern Copper is planning to increase its production in 2011 and explore new operations in South America.

CEO Oscar Gonzalez told Reuters that the firm will increase its copper production at its Beuenavista mine in Mexico to 600,000 tonnes in 2011, up from 450,000 tonnes in 2010.

“We still haven’t found anything that’s worth it in Chile, in copper or gold, but we are starting copper exploration in Argentina and in the second half of the year we will probably start some exploration in Ecuador,” Gonzalez said.

Southern Copper is also expecting to start production from its $1.3bn Las Chancas project in Peru in 2014 or 2015, reports Reuters.

The firm is also currently working on a copper expansion project in Toquepala, Peru, with production set to start in 2013.