Antofagasta approves second Centinela concentrator

Copper miner Antofagasta has approved, after extensive review, a multi billion-dollar expansion of its Centinela operation in Chile, including a second concentrator that will add an estimated 170,000 copper equivalent tonnes annually.

Initial construction and critical path works for the Centinela Second Concentrator project will begin immediately, with full construction expected to commence after definitive project finance documents have been executed during the first quarter of this year.

Of the additional 170,000 t, it will be comprised of 144,000 tonnes of copper production, 130,000 ounces of gold production and 3,500 tonnes of molybdenum production, with a 36-year mine life based on Centinela’s substantial ore reserve of two billion tonnes. It is set to also lower net cash costs for the company.

“The second concentrator will source ore initially from the recently opened Esperanza Sur pit and later from the Encuentro pit. The sulphide ore in the Encuentro pit lies under the Encuentro Oxides reserves, which are expected to be depleted by 2026,” the miner said.

“Fully exposing the sulphide ore in the optimal sequence required to initiate feed to the second concentrator from the Encuentro Pit is expected to require separate investments in infrastructure, mining equipment and mine development activities, which will materially commence half-way through the construction phase of the second concentrator and will span a period of 3-4 years.”

Centinela’s second concentrator has all the relevant permits approved by the authorities in Chile for the project to proceed into the construction phase.

Antofagasta CEO Iván Arriagada said first copper is expected in 2027, and at that point will significantly progress the company toward a long-term ambition of 900,000 tonnes of profitable copper production.

“This brownfield expansion project is expected to deliver attractive returns in excess of our cost of capital at a wide range of commodity prices. We are leveraging more than 20-years of operational experience and understanding of Centinela’s ores, utilising existing infrastructure and building on long-established relationships within our local communities,” he added.


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