Anglo American’s new Peruvian copper mine ‘a licence to print money’

Anglo American’s US$5.3 billion Quellaveco copper project has been labelled a ‘generational asset’ and ‘a licence to print money’ by the CEO of its Peruvian operations Tom McCulley.

Quellaveco is one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper deposits, located in the Moquegua region of Peru. The mine will produce 330,000 tonnes of copper per year for the first five years of the project, starting in 2022.

“This is not going to be a 30-year mine. My personal opinion is that it is going to be closer to 100 years,” said McCulley at a briefing in Lima on Monday and reported by the Financial Times yesterday.

According to a company presentation seen by the newspaper, the reserves at Quellaveco have only been defined to a depth of 400 metres, but drill samples suggest mineralisation could extend to 1,000 metres.

Two adjacent copper mines have been in production for more than four decades at much greater depths than Quellaveco, and exploration outside the main project areas has suggested there could be another major deposit within Anglo’s tenements.

“We actually have done a few drill holes recently and come across some of the best ore we have outside the pit,” said McCulley. “We’ve seen enough to know that there is probably another Quellaveco out there.”

Copper is forecast to play vital role in the world’s low carbon energy transition, with demand set to dramatically increase from the renewable energy and electric vehicle industries.