CHILE – The Collahuasi copper mine, which is owned 44% by Toronto’s FALCONBRIDGE, is working hard to recoup a month of lost output from the processing plant. The third and largest grinding mill in the plant closed for routine maintenance on March 31 and was subsequently found to need repairs. As a result, output was only 60% of normal for one month. Output during 2005 is expected to fall somewhat short of the forecast 480,000 tonnes of copper.
Last year the mine produced 480,439 tonnes of copper, the highest level since Collahuasi started commercial operations in 1999, thanks to a US$628-million expansion completed in April 2004.
Collahuasi executive president and CEO Thomas Keller confirmed that construction of a molybdenum plant at Collahuasi was on schedule for completion by the end of 2005. The US$38-million plant is due to produce 4,000 tonnes of molybdenum per year, initially.
A prefeasibility study into a further expansion is complete, and the start of engineering studies is expected next year, said Keller. “We believe that the optimum size for Collahuasi must be from 150,000-200,000 tonnes/day of ore in comparison to the 130,000 tonnes/day we have today,” he said.
Securing the rights to additional water resources remains an important factor for the project to go ahead, according to Keller.
Further information about the Collahuasi mine is available at www.Falconbridge.com.