JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Global diversified miner Anglo American’s key development iron-ore and base metals projects in Brazil and Chile were on track to enter production from 2011 onwards, the group reported on Thursday.
The projects would also allow the group to benefit from a growing commodity demand environment, the miner said in a statement issued following an analyst and investor visit to South America.
Anglo American plans to begin producing 26-million tons a year from its Minas Rio mine in Brazil by 2012, and said that planning was under way to increase output to 80-million tons a year in a second phase.
Across the group’s iron-ore interests, it had the potential to increase iron-ore production to in excess of 150-million tons a year within ten years. Anglo American owns South African iron-ore miner Kumba Iron Ore.
Since the acquisition of Minas Rio, Anglo American had undertaken considerable geological work to increase confidence in the resource estimates, resulting in the increase of resources from 1,2-billion tons at the time of acquisition in 2007, to 4,6-billion tons, a nearly fourfold increase, with further resource potential.
At the Los Broncos copper mine, in Chile, Anglo American said that it was “well advanced” in its expansion project, with engineering work more than 80% complete.
Development had progressed into the execution phase with first production expected in the fourth quarter of 2011. Output was scheduled to increase to an average of 415 000 t/y over the first ten years of full production, and 490 000 t/y over the first three years.
At peak production levels, Los Bronces was expected to be the fifth-largest producing copper mine in the world, with cash operating costs of $0,70/lb and reserves that supported a life-of-mine of 30 years.
Resource and mineralisation studies carried out by Anglo American’s technical teams supported further potential expansion, the group noted.
Anglo American has made two new discoveries at Los Sulfatos and San Enrique Monolito, close to its Los Bronces mine, in Chile.
These two new copper prospects together increase the group’s copper resources by about 50%.
Anglo American reported that its Barro Alto nickel project, in Chile, was also progressing well, with overall development more than 70% complete, remaining on track for start up in the first quarter of 2011.
Anglo American said that this project leveraged an existing operation and proven technology and would produce an average 36 000 t/y of nickel in full production, or 41 000 t/y over the first five years.
When Barro Alto reaches full production in 2012, Anglo American’s nickel production would reach 60 000 t/y, while additional projects in the pipeline could increase production to 140 000 t/y.
“Minas Rio, Los Bronces and Barro Alto are three projects which demonstrate Anglo American’s ability to deliver high quality, low cost projects that are well timed to deliver in a period of expected cyclical upturn as a result of consistent and focused investment through the cycle. In terms of production, Anglo American’s $17-billion pipeline of approved projects is expected to deliver organic growth of one third by 2013,” the company concluded.