Chile's Codelco says key mine equipment functioning after start-up problems

SANTIAGO Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:24pm EDT

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SANTIAGO Aug 22 (Reuters) - A key piece of equipment that had delayed full production at Codelco's newest mine in Chile is now stable and working properly, the world's No.1 copper producer said on Friday, confirming comments made by a union leader on Thursday.

The roaster at the Ministro Hales mine is working as expected and has been functioning in a stable and continuous way, Claudio Olguin, the head of state-run Codelco's Ministro Hales division told Reuters.

Production was now in line with expectations for the period, he added.

The roaster in question is designed to remove arsenic from ore at the project, necessary to make copper concentrate that is saleable for the global market.

However, technical issues delayed its full start-up, forcing Codelco to cancel some sales to Chinese smelters.

Even at full capacity, the roaster cannot deal with all the high-arsenic material from Ministro Hales, and Codelco has taken the unusual step of using a Taiwanese blending facility to mix some of its concentrate in with clean concentrate, sources said earlier this month.

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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