Codelco's 2023 production declines, but recovery seen this year

7th February 2024 By: Reuters

Codelco's 2023 production declines, but recovery seen this year

CHUQUICAMATA MINE - Production at mines owned by Chile's cash-strapped copper miner Codelco fell to 1.325 million metric tons in 2023, the company's chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday, promising a slight recovery in the coming year.

Production at Codelco's mines is seen ticking up to 1.353-million tons in 2024, CEO Ruben Alvarado told Reuters during a visit to the underground Chuquicamata mine.

Codelco's production has fallen to its lowest level in a quarter of a century due to operational problems and project hold-ups, but senior executives have given assurances of a coming rebound.

Codelco is the world's top copper producer.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Chuquicamata mine's head said the company expects the site to reach processing capacity of 140 000 metric tons a day by 2030 from its current capacity of 80 000 tons.

The mine will also see a month-long stoppage next year to swap out the conveyor belt, said underground mine manager Nicolas Jamett during a visit to the project, although the pause is not expected to impact production.

"We are looking at the best date," Jamett said, referring to the conveyor belt swap. He added the work could be completed in less than a month.

The century-old mine - one of the world's largest - is crucial to Codelco's production plans as it looks to revamp its core projects to make up for declining ore quality.

Development plans have been plagued by delays, with Codelco warning in August that maximum capacity could be postponed by two or three years.

In January, Codelco submitted an environmental permit application to invest $720-million more in transforming the site, also known as "Chuqui," to clear bottlenecks limiting production.