Oil Report

Chile's Codelco approves cap increase for BioSigma

SANTIAGO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Chilean state copper company Codelco on Friday approved a capital increase of $17 million for its technology unit BioSigma, which is helping Codelco develop bioleaching projects.

“This will allow (BioSigma) to carry on what it’s doing in terms of investigation and take a step forward at an industrial level,” Codelco CEO Jose Pablo Arellano told reporters during a tour of BioSigma’s laboratory near Santiago.

Codelco has a two-thirds stake in BioSigma, which is one-third owned by Japan’s Nippon Mining & Metals Co.

Bioleaching is a process by which copper can be freed from ore through the use of bacteria. It allows companies to leach copper from low-grade ore which would otherwise be discarded .

In May, Codelco produced its first copper cathode from a bioleaching project at its Andina division in central Chile.

The company hopes to use bioleaching to produce 100,000 tonnes of copper a year by 2010.