Codelco CEO says new projects on target, sees El Teniente delay

viernes 24 de octubre de 2014 11:48 GYT

SANTIAGO Oct 24 (Reuters) - Most investment projects that Chilean state-run copper company Codelco has in the pipeline are in good shape, although the expansion of El Teniente mine could be up to two years behind schedule, the company's chief executive said on Friday.

Nelson Pizarro, who took over the helm at the world No.1 copper producer last month, is currently undertaking a review of the projects making up an ambitious investment plan that could cost more than $23 billion over the next five years.

"A reasonable majority of the projects seem to me to be well conceived. Others need a bit more intervention," Pizarro said to journalists at the company's headquarters, where a fresh government financing mechanism for Codelco approved by Congress this week was being signed into law.

However, Pizarro said that bringing some projects to fruition could take longer than planned, such as the expansion at El Teniente, the world's biggest underground copper mine.

Codelco wants to dig deeper to add a new level, a project the company previously forecast would cost some $3.4 billion and begin operating in 2018.

"That project has a delay of some months or a couple of years," said Pizarro.

Codelco produces about a tenth of the global supply of mined copper and is a key engine of Chile's economic growth and development.

But it is at a critical stage: It needs to upgrade its mines to counter falling production, a task which many analysts warn will be technically challenging and could be hit by delays.

In an interview with Reuters at LME week this week, Codelco's chairman said the results of the project review would be announced soon.

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; editing by Gunna Dickson)