SANTIAGO, March 28 (Reuters) - The delayed Caserones mine in Chile will produce 68,000 to 69,000 tonnes of copper concentrate this year, Nelson Pizarro, the head of the project, said.
JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp, a unit of JX Holdings Inc. , said last month it has pushed back the start of the mine to May from January because of a system trouble and delays in construction.
"We hope to reach design capacity in four months," Pizarro said on the sidelines of a mining industry dinner on Thursday. "We should be sending out the first concentrate shipments in August ... In 2015 we should be producing close to the (forecast) 150,000 tonnes of concentrate."
Pizarro said the project, in Northern Chile, had been chiefly delayed because labor conflicts and warned launching a ramp-up during the Southern Hemisphere's Winter also carried risks.
"That's really a gamble. It's very complicated to attempt a ramp-up in winter, but that's what we have to do," he added.
Caserones is one of the few new mining projects coming online in Chile, the world's No. 1 copper producer.
Last October, the company said its cost had ballooned to $4.2 billion, up 40 percent from its earlier plan as a result of spiking labor costs and bad weather. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; EDiting by Steve Orlofsky)