* To sign contracts with China after expansions complete
* Southern Copper's $1 bln Tia Maria project on hold
AREQUIPA, Peru, Sept 14 Southern Copper, one of
the world's largest producers of the metal, is looking to sell
copper to China starting in 2013, its chief executive said.
The company will look to sign contracts with the Asian
giant after expanding a key mine in Peru or getting government
approval for its delayed Tia Maria project, CEO Oscar Gonzalez
said late on Tuesday.
"When we have our Toquepala expansion or the Tia Maria
project, we will seek to sell to China," Gonzalez said on the
sidelines of the Perumin convention in Arequipa.
Southern Copper currently sells some of its surplus metal
to China, the world's largest copper consumer, through brokers
or traders. The company sells 25 percent of its output to
Europe and 23 percent to the United States, the world's
Southern Copper (SCCO.N), controlled by Grupo Mexico
(GMEXICOB.MX), is on track to increase production this year by
30 percent to 600,000 tonnes now that its Buenavista mine in
Mexico is producing again after a three-year strike.
Southern Copper operates the Cuajone mine in Peru as well
as Toquepala, where milling capacity will be doubled by 2013.
But the previous government in Peru rejected an
environmental impact study for the company's $1 billion star
project, Tia Maria, after local farmers said the mine would
threaten their water supplies.
Gonzalez said the company hopes to open talks with the new
government of leftist President Ollanta Humala, who was elected
(Reporting by Patricia Velez; Editing by Dale Hudson)