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Desalination plant delays impacts Antofagasta's production

Kitco News

Antofagasta said today that about 30,000 tonnes of copper production in 2023 will be impacted due to desalination plant delays.

Los Pelambres is a sulphide deposit in Chile’s Coquimbo Region, 240 km north of Santiago. Copper production was 324,700 tonnes in 2021. The mine has seen falling production due to drought, and the company announced plans for a desalination plant.

Last month the company announced that severe sea swells had overturned a construction platform working on the marine works of the Los Pelambres desalination plant project. At that time, the environmental regulator, the SMA, halted all marine works pending the recovery of the lost equipment and materials.

"Sea conditions continue to prevent the complete recovery of all the lost equipment and this has prevented the resumption of marine construction work since this restriction was enforced in September," reported the company in a news release. "As a result, the suspension of the works has impacted the completion schedule for the desalination plant project. A revised schedule incorporating this delay together with the impact of continued sea swells on the remaining marine works is being finalised."

"There is not expected to be a material increase in the total capital cost of the project as a result of the delayed resumption of works."

Capital expenditure during 2021 was $880 million, including $219 million on sustaining and $575 million on growth projects. As at the end of 2021 the Los Pelambres Expansion project was 68% complete.

Antofagasta said that copper production in 2022 to reach the lower end of the 640-660,000 tonne guidance range. Guidance for 2023 will be announced later this month.

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