Peru greenlights $2bn copper mine expansion

Antamina mine tailings pond. Credit: Xtremizta. Peru’s environment watchdog has…


Peru’s environment watchdog has granted Antamina, the country’s largest copper zinc mine, a permit enabling a $2bn (7.64bn new sol) expansion that will extend the operation’s production from 2028 to 2036.

The mine, co-owned by Glencore, Teck Resources, BHP and Mitsubishi, will be able to apply changes to existing components thanks to the Modification of the Environmental Impact Study (MEIA). These include the expansion of the open pit and the optimisation of the mine’s dumps and tailings dam.

Víctor Gobitz, chief executive of Antamina, said: “The MEIA is an important milestone for Antamina and the Peruvian mining industry (…) It broadens our horizon and allows us to continue working hand in hand with the authorities and communities.”

Antamina’s pit will be deepened by 150m and its mine area will be increased by 25%. This constitutes an extraction of up to 173,000 tonnes (t) of ore per day, with a waste movement of around 742,000t daily.

The primary ore crusher station will also be replaced by a new rock crusher. Dam storage capacity will be increased to 1.57 billion tonnes from the current 1.1 billion tonnes.

The permit comes a week after representatives from the largest mining companies operating in Peru met with the nation’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Oscar Vera, to discuss the efficacy of a new digital initiative expected to accelerate the permitting process.

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By GlobalData

Mining constitutes 8.5% of Peru’s gross domestic product (GDP), with copper and gold being the most important mineral exports by value. According to GlobalData, Mining Technology’s parent company, Peru was the world’s second-largest producer of copper in 2022, and production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6% between 2022 and 2026. While mining expands, Peru’s economy has been booming, registering GDP growth of 13.6% in 2021. In 2023, it is expected to have grown by around 2.9%.

Peru might be expanding open-pit operations, but this is not the case throughout South America. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called for a ban on open-pit mining, citing environmental concerns.

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