LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Britain is due to seal a $1 billion deal to support UK investment in the world's biggest copper producer, Chile's state-owned Codelco, an official said on Tuesday.
The agreement, due to be formally announced on Wednesday, envisages UK companies working with Codelco on infrastructure, selling equipment or making financial investments.
"It's probably one of the first investments of its kind into mining from UK Export Finance," Darryn Quayle, mining business specialist from the British government's UK Trade & Investment department, told Reuters.
"Typically they've been orientated towards oil and gas, aerospace and defence. It shows the UK government's support for the mining sector."
On Wednesday, the head of the UK Export Finance will hand a $1 billion letter of support to Chile's mining minister, representing Codelco.
UK companies will be able to utilise the government financial backing to sell infrastructure such as rail lines or power plants or mining equipment.
"Mining is not just a hole in the ground, it's all the related infrastructure as well," Quayle said.
The $1 billion deal is part of a new British government initiative, the High Value Opportunities Programme, which is aimed at boosting UK exports, he added. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Veronica Brown and Jason Neely)