Anglo American’s Los Bronces expansion plans take a hit from environmental regulator

A Chilean environmental regulator has recommended that Anglo American’s Los Bronces copper project not be granted an extension permit, the global miner revealed over the weekend.

In a statement, Anglo said Chile’s Environmental Assessment Service (SEA) had issued the recommendation to prohibit the US$3.3 billion expansion project, although a firm decision would only come next week.

“The SEA’s recommendation is despite the strong support for the project offered to date by 23 of the 25 technical services bodies and government ministries that form part of the assessment process,” Anglo said.

Environmental concerns have focused on Los Bronces’ potential impact on a local glacier as well as on water availability for the region. The mine, which produces 300,000 tonnes of copper per year, is located near Chile’s capital Santiago. Anglo hopes to extend the life of the mine through 2036.

The SEA announcement came at the end of a difficult weak for Anglo, after it announced a weaker than expected production performance for the first quarter of the year. The company’s share price has fallen by as much as 22% in the last five days.