(Adds Codelco board chairman's comments)
SANTIAGO Aug 1 Codelco, the world's biggest
copper producer, will receive $4 billion in state financing
through 2018 to help pay for an ambitious investment plan,
Chile's finance minister said on Friday.
The state-run firm will receive around $3 billion
via treasury-issued debt and around $1 billion from returned
profits, Alberto Arenas told a news conference.
A bill to approve the financing will be sent to Congress
later this month.
"We are going to take steps to give solidity and financial
sustainability to Codelco in this five-year period... We are
going to capitalize Codelco with up to $4 billion linked to the
company's business and development plan," said Arenas.
Capitalization would be transferred annually based on
completion of the company's goals, he added.
Codelco, which was nationalized in the 1970s, gives all its
profits to the state, which then decides on an annual basis how
much to return to the miner.
That exposes it to the whims and spending priorities of the
government. The longer-term financing plan is intended to give
it better visibility, the government has said.
"Now we have to build a strategic alliance with the unions,
professional workers, with the communities surrounding our
operations and all the relevant actors in order to have a
long-term vision (for the company)," said Codelco Board Chairman
Codelco, which also issues its own debt, plans to spend
around $23 billion through 2018 to upgrade its aging deposits to
counteract falling ore grades.
Planned projects include a $6.8 billion expansion of its
Andina mine near Santiago, and a $4.2 billion conversion of
open-pit Chuquicamata to an underground mine.
On Thursday, the Codelco board named industry veteran Nelson
Pizarro as chief executive to lead it through the transformative
(Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Additional reporting by Fabian
Cambero; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Dan Grebler)