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Codelco to inaugurate Andina phase I expansion in August - Chile

By Victor Henriquez / Business News Americas

July 9,2010

The US$980mn phase I expansion project at Chilean state copper producer Codelco's Andina division will be inaugurated in August, together with the commemoration of the division's 40th anniversary, a source from the company told BNamericas.

The project was originally scheduled to start operating in July, but delays were caused by difficult weather conditions at the site which is located at 2,700-4,200m above sea level in central region V. The new date is still ahead of a previously announced October startup, the source said.

Phase I is the first of three expansion stages. Once the first phase is complete, throughput capacity will increase from 72,000t/d to 94,500t/d to bring production up from the current 230,000t/y to 300,000t/y of fine copper. The project was 95% complete by end-May, according to Codelco.

The expansion will almost triple ore extraction rates at the open pit through the use of new and larger mining equipment, and includes construction of a new crushing-grinding-flotation plant at the division's concentrator.

The phase II expansion involves a US$4.5bn-5bn investment and a decision on its development is expected to be made by Codelco's board by mid-2011. The further expansion of operations will boost throughput capacity to 240,000t/d to produce around 643,000t/y of fine copper by 2016.

Phase III is still in the design stage and is expected to bring processing capacity to 290,000t/d and production to 750,000t/y.