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Anglo American Projects Production Cut at Chile’s Los Bronces Mine

Copper Output Expected to Drop by 30% Due to Extended Maintenance

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Anglo American, a leading global mining company, is anticipating a significant reduction in copper production at its prominent Los Bronces mine in Chile. The expected decrease, which could reach nearly one-third of its average output, comes as the company plans to halt operations at one of its processing plants for an extended maintenance period next year. This announcement was made by Patricio Hidalgo, the CEO of Anglo American in Chile, during a press event on Tuesday.

Los Bronces, a flagship operation for Anglo American, contributes approximately 25% of the company’s total global copper production, with operations spanning across Chile and Peru. This mine is crucial not only for Anglo American but also for the global copper market, where demand has seen a substantial increase.

The impending production cut is linked to the scheduled suspension of the mine’s smaller, older processing plant in mid-2024. While this plan had been previously announced, the specific impact on production had not been disclosed until now. Hidalgo explained that the maintenance is necessary due to the age of the plant and is expected to take at least a couple of years.

According to Hidalgo, the reduction in output is anticipated to be about 30% starting next year, relative to historical production levels. He noted that the actual impact could vary depending on the grade of ore processed and other operational inputs. “It’s not a direct one-to-one reduction, but based on our projections, we’re looking at about a 30% decrease,” he told reporters.

This maintenance period will also provide Anglo American with the opportunity to prepare for future extraction phases at Los Bronces. These preparations include securing additional water supplies and relocating the Perez Caldera tailings dam—a critical step in expanding the mine’s operational capacity.

“We see this as a strategic window to align our infrastructure and environmental management plans with our long-term production goals,” Hidalgo commented. He added that determining the optimal timing for these activities is crucial, especially the removal of the dam, to ensure minimal disruption and maximum efficiency.

Ownership of Los Bronces is primarily held by Anglo American’s local subsidiary, Anglo American Sur, which has just over a 50% stake. The remainder is owned by a joint venture between Japan’s Mitsui and Chile’s state-run Codelco, which holds nearly 30%, and Japan’s Mitsubishi, which owns the rest. The anticipated drop in production at Los Bronces comes amid a heightened global interest in copper, underlined by BHP’s recent unsuccessful $49-billion bid to acquire Anglo American, targeting its valuable copper mines.

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