Antofagasta clinches funding for expansion of Los Pelambres copper mine

Chilean miner Antofagasta has confirmed that full funding for the planned expansion of its flagship Los Pelambres copper mine has been secured, after ‘a strong group of lenders’ committed US$1.3 billion to the project.

The expansion will add an extra 40,000 tonnes per annum of production in the second half of 2021 when completion is expected, followed by an additional 20,000 tonnes towards 2036, thereby adding an average 60,000 tonnes in the first 15 years of operation.

Los Pelambres, located around 200 km North of Chile’s capital Santiago, is currently responsible for about half of Antofagasta’s total copper output, which is expected to be between 750-790,000 tonnes this year.

“The expansion of Los Pelambres has been financed on favourable terms with the support of a strong group of lenders,” said the London-listed company’s CEO Ivan Arriagada.

The debt financing is comprised of two tranches, the first being a 10-year term from Japan Bank for International Cooperation worth $425 million, and the second being a $875 million seven-year term from a consortium of international banks including Mizuho Bank, Export Development Canada and Bank of China.

Meanwhile, the world’s top copper producers are meeting this week in Santiago for the annual World Copper Conference. Despite tightening global supply, project delays and trade war concerns, the industry is planning for significant growth in the next decade, as car manufacturers vow to electrify their fleets. EVs use twice as much copper as internal combustion engine cars.