(Updates with additional detail on source of production, quotes from minister, context)
LIMA, March 9 (Reuters) - Peru’s copper output could hit a record 2.5 million tonnes in 2021, well over the 2.15 million tonnes produced last year, Energy and Mines Minister Jaime Gálvez said on Tuesday.
Gálvez said recent mine expansions would help the world’s No. 2 copper producer boost output, as well as the opening in April or May of the $1.6 billion Minas Justa project, owned by Minsur.
“This will compensate for the problems that still exist in the copper industry as a result of this second wave of the coronavirus,” Gálvez said in a press conference call.
Local copper production plummeted last year due to strict restrictions placed on mines when the coronavirus pandemic first struck the South American nation. Output has since gradually recovered.
Peru’s top copper producers last year were Southern Peru Copper and Antamina - controlled by BHP and Glencore, according to data from the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
Gálvez said that Peru could produce up to 3 million tonnes in 2023, provided new projects continue to come online as expected. He noted that forecast would “depend a lot on the political stability of the country...after the electoral process.”
Peru is slated to hold presidential elections on April 11 after a tumultuous year of political and coronavirus-related crisis that has badly dented the country’s economy.
The country’s projections for increased production, however, coincide with a soaring copper price in 2021, as a nascent global economic recovery has prompted demand to boom for the commodity, used in construction and manufacturing.
The outlook for copper prices remained strong thanks to strong demand from China and the United States’ $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, according to market analysts.
Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
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