Commercial production of copper and molybdenum concentrates from the Caserones copper mine in Chile has been delayed to May on construction snags and a strike.

The parent company of the mine’s joint owner, Japan’s top copper producer Pan Pacific Copper (PPC), had previously scheduled the start of commercial production for January this year.

“A contractors’ strike and a fault in a grinding machine affected the start of [copper] production,” a spokesman at PPC’s parent company, JX Nippon Mining & Metals, told Metal Bulletin on February 6.

“Molybdenum concentrate will be produced in parallel with copper concentrate,” he said, adding that “in line with that, production of molybdenum concentrate will be started in May 2014.”

Full production of 150,000 tpy of copper contained in copper concentrate will be reached in August, he added.

An ore processing test run through the concentrates production facility will start this month, he said.

Production of refined copper at Caserones by means of solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) started in March 2013, and is already at its full capacity of 30,000 tpy.

In October 2013, the initial capital expenditure for the Caserones project was increased to $4.2 billion from $3 billion

PPC is a joint enterprise owned by JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp (66%) and Mitsui Mining & Smelting (34%). JX Holdings is the parent company for JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp.

Caserones has a 28-year mine life and PPC has said that over the first ten years, the output of copper contained in copper concentrates from Caserones will be about 150,000 tpy and refined copper produced by the SX-EW process will be about 30,000 tpy.

Molybdenum output is expected to be about 3,000 tpy during the first ten years. 

Shivani Singh
Twitter: @ShivaniSingh_MB