Antofagasta PLC announced in its preliminary 2017 results statement that the Los Pelambres Incremental Expansion Phase 1 EIA has been approved and the capital estimate updated.
The project’s capital estimate has been updated with current pricing projections, advanced detailed engineering and a project execution plan to a revised estimate of $1.3 billion. This figure includes the concentrator plant expansion and pre-stripping at $780 million and the desalination plant and water pipeline at $520 million.
The desalination plant will serve as a back-up water supply for the existing operation in conditions of severe drought and for both phases of the expansion. The project is expected to be submitted for approval to the Board during the second half of 2018 once ancillary permits to the approved EIA are in place and the 2021 start-up of the project remains unchanged.
Group copper production for the full year was 704,300 t, in line with guidance and 0.7% lower than in 2016. This was due to the impact of the expected lower grades at Los Pelambres and Centinela, which was offset by Encuentro Oxides coming into production in October and following the completion of the ramp-up at Antucoya in 2016. Encuentro Oxides was completed some 5% under budget. Contractor Thiess has the pre-stripping contract at the new mine, which consists of a single pit. The Thiess scope includes pre-strip of 57 Mbcm by mid 2019. Encuentro Oxides will contribute to the production of 50,000 t of copper cathode per year.