UPDATE 1-Antofagasta names Codelco executive as mining CEO

miércoles 3 de diciembre de 2014 07:41 GYT

(Writes through)

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Copper producer Antofagasta has recruited Iván Arriagada from Chile's state-owned Codelco to become chief executive of its mining division, the company said on Wednesday.

Arriagada, 51, will start in February and take a role currently filled by Diego Hernandez, the Antofagasta group CEO and another former Codelco executive.

Antofagasta, controlled by Chile's Luksic family, makes most of its profit from the mining division but also has a transport and water business.

"This will allow me, as Antofagasta CEO, to mainly dedicate myself to driving the company's development initiatives and its future," Hernandez said about the appointment.

Hernandez was promoted in September from head of the mining division to chief executive of the whole group after Paul Luksic, a member of the controlling family, decided to step down for personal reasons.

Arriagada, a commercial engineer, has been vice president of administration and finance at Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, since 2012. He previously worked at global miner BHP Billiton and at oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.

A key task for the new Antofagasta mining boss will be to bring down cost of delivering new projects, according to Investec analyst Marc Elliott.

London-listed Antofagasta, like other copper miners, is battling lower copper prices and rising costs.

Antofagasta is also hoping to counter falling copper grades, an issue for the Chilean mining sector, with new projects such as Antucoya and Encuentro Oxide, the expansion of its large Pelambres mine and the construction of a second concentrator at Centinela. This would lift its output to 900,000 tonnes by 2018 and about 1 million tonnes by 2020. (Reporting by Silvia Antonioli)