Chile’s state copper miner Codelco said on Monday it had awarded a tender for a desalination plant for its Chuquicamata, Radomiro Tomic and Ministro Hales mines to a consortium led by Japan’s Marubeni Corp.
Codelco said that it expected work on the plant to kick off in the first quarter of 2020 and for the plant to be operational in 2022.
The consortium is made up of Marubeni with a 50% stake, and Chilean power transmitting firm Transelec and Argentine-Italian steel company Techint. The project has an initial capacity of 840 litres per second.
Codelco launched an international tender for the plant, with an estimated investment of around $1 billion, in 2017. It is part of a widespread overhaul of its mines to counteract a fall in ore grades.
Copper production in Chile’s top mines rose in April despite the generalised shutdown in the country aimed at halting the spread of the new coronavirus.
Chile’s top copper mines ramped up production in March even as the coronavirus outbreak took hold, according to data released on Thursday by state copper agency Cochilco, boosted by a sharp spike in output from state miner Codelco.
The global copper market is headed for a surplus of between 200,000-300,000 tonnes in 2020, the head of miner Antofagasta told Chilean media on Saturday, with operation halts at some mines offsetting depressed demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chile’s Codelco, the world’s second-largest copper miner, has lost more ground among the metal’s top tier, after reporting that output for 2019 had fallen by 5.3% to 1.588 million tonnes.
Ecuador is moving forward with plans to move from an explorers hotspot to mining exporter as the country’s only large-scale copper mine readies to ship its first large cargo in November.
Chile’s Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, said on Monday that it is evaluating the closure of its Ventanas copper smelter in a polluted coastal region.