SANTIAGO Nov 13 (Reuters) - World No. 1 copper producer Codelco's 2013 output of the red metal will top this year's forecast of about 1.7 million tonnes as the new Ministro Hales mine comes on line, CEO Thomas Keller said on Tuesday.
State miner Codelco output is expected to dip slightly this year, hurt by dwindling ore grades in its ageing deposits, before ambitious expansion plans hike production towards the end of the decade.
Copper prices will remain close to current levels in the short term, Keller told reporters on the sidelines of a mining conference. The copper market's fundamentals are tight, he added.
Keller said he is optimistic over labor negotiations at Codelco's massive Chuquicamata deposit.