Codelco to invest more than $5 billion this year
Author:Network sources Source:Network sources Date:2013-03-07

Chilean state miner Codelco plans to invest more than $5 billion this year, up from the roughly $4 billion it spent last year, as the world's No.1 copper producer seeks to stave off rapidly dwindling ore grades in its tired deposits.

Codelco is aiming to produce more than 2 million tonnes of the red metal by 2021, a big leap from less than 1.7 million tonnes last year.

To do so, it has launched an ambitious long-term investment plan of about $28 billion.

"The future of Codelco is contingent on the realization of these crucial projects," Chief Executive Officer Thomas Keller said during a press conference at Codelco's headquarters, framed by copper-covered walls.

Codelco's battle to fight ebbing output is symptomatic of a wider challenge in leading copper producer Chile, which is battling accidents, labor unrest, energy woes and extreme weather to lift its output.

Codelco has said its 2013 output of the red metal will top last year's thanks to the new Ministro Hales mine that will come on line in the last quarter. The company will spend about $2.89 billion this year on its main projects.

It will finance its spending plan via its own funds and by tapping the debt market, which Keller described as "attractive."

In 2012, Codelco invested a total of $4.168 billion, of which $1.978 billion were destined to the company's chief projects.

This year, the company will invest $1.115 billion to launch its Ministro Hales project and $716 million to dig deeper at its El Teniente mine.

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