LMEWEEK-Antofagasta CEO warns Chile could miss out on mining dollars
* Expects cash cost to be stable or lower in 2015
* Encuentro Oxides to get board approval by year end
* Sees copper prices roughly flat next year
By Silvia Antonioli
LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Copper miner Antofagasta warned on Wednesday that Chile could miss out on future mining investment unless it does more to support the industry, simplify regulations and streamline an increasingly cumbersome permitting process.
Chile produces about a third of global copper supply. The red metal is the country's top export by far and is vital for its economic development.
But copper miners, already grappling with weaker prices, are struggling to contain production costs at aging Chilean mines. They are also faced with scarce water and power, and tax changes threaten to further inflate costs.
"Authorities and the country need to realize that there is a limited amount to invest in the copper mining industry, and probably there are more projects than money," Antofagasta Chief Executive Diego Hernandez said.
An industry veteran, Hernandez joined Antofagasta in 2012, after two years at the helm of Chile's state copper giant Codelco. Continuación...