December 6, 2012 / 7:50 PM / 5 years ago

Antofagasta submits $600 mln copper project for Chile environmental OK

* Project planned in northern Centinela Mining District
    * Oxidos Encuentro to begin initial production in 2016
    * Group on track to produce 700,000 tonnes copper this year

    SANTIAGO, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Chilean miner Antofagasta
Minerals has submitted its $600 million Oxidos
Encuentro copper project for environmental approval in Chile,
the company said on Thursday. 
    The London-listed miner hopes the project, in the Centinela
Mining District in northern Chile, will start being built in
2014 and begin initial production in 2016. Output is seen at an
average of 50,000 tonnes of copper cathodes per year over eight
    "The development of the Centinela Mining District
consolidates our position in that zone where the group had been
working for more than two decades. The synergies between the
Oxidos Encuentro project, El Tesoro and Esperanza will allow the
sector's mining potential to be re-galvanized," project manager
Francisco Walther said in a statement. 
    World No.1 copper miner Chile produces around a third of the
world's copper but dwindling ore grades at ageing mines, legal
setbacks to key projects and high energy costs have taken some
shine off the mining powerhouse.
    Environmental and social groups are increasingly opposing
major power and mining projects in Chile and are gaining
traction in courts. 
    Oxidos Encuentro plans to use exclusively ocean water,
Antofagasta said. 
    Antofagasta's third-quarter copper output rose almost 9
percent year on year, boosted by improved production at its
trouble-plagued flagship Esperanza mine and steadier volumes
    The group has said it on track to meet its full-year target
of 700,000 tonnes, having produced 515,800 tonnes in the first
nine months of the year.

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