BHP starts process to sell its Cerro Colorado copper mine

FILE PHOTO: A promotional sign adorns a stage at a BHP Billiton function in central Sydney August 20, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - BHP Billiton BHP.AXBLT.L said on Wednesday it has started a sales process to potentially divest its Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile, one of its smaller operations in South America.

“The evaluation is at an early stage, no final decisions have been made and there is no guarantee that a transaction will result,” BHP said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Cerro Colorado is located in Chile’s Tarapacá Region and yielded 77,000 tonnes of copper in fiscal 2016.

BHP’s flagship mine, Escondida, also in Chile, yields more than 10 times that amount annually.

Banking sources have named Chile's Empresas Copec SA COP.SN, a conglomerate that has voiced interest in diversifying into copper, and Canadian companies such as Lundin Mining Corp LUN.TO, as possible buyers.

BHP has earmarked large long-life copper mining as a key growth sector in years to come as expansion work in its iron ore mining business in Australia slows down.

Citibank is advising BHP on the sale.

Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin