Output issues continue at Japanese-run Caserones copper mine in Chile

miércoles 25 de noviembre de 2015 09:59 GYT

By Rosalba O'Brien and Yuka Obayashi
    SANTIAGO/TOKYO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - The Japanese-owned
Caserones copper mine in Chile, which has struggled with its
waste system and other problems in its ramp-up phase, is still
far from reaching full production, according to a report seen by
Reuters, and will miss its annual output target.
    A weekly report dated November 18 from the mine, which is
controlled by Japan's top copper smelter Pan Pacific, showed
that Caserones' concentrate plant had produced some 3,337 tonnes
of copper concentrate in the month to date, short of its
targeted 5,021 tonnes.
    It is not the only new copper project in Chile to face
teething issues, and its struggles highlight the problems facing
miners now the more accessible deposits have been tapped out.
    The company said earlier this month that Caserones was
expected to reach full capacity in November. 
    A spokesman from JX Nippon Mining & Metals, which
controls Pan Pacific, declined to comment on the report but
confirmed that Caserones had not been running at full
utilization this month.
    "We have found minor glitches after having the plant run at
full utilization. We hope to fix these problems by the end of
this year," he said.
    "We aim to bring Caserones to a full operation on a monthly
basis in January."
    That means that Caserones will not reach its already reduced
target of 64,000 tonnes of copper concentrate in 2015, the
spokesman said. He did not provide an updated target. 
    The project, located in a remote Andean site far from
established mines, has had problems in its ramp-up, due in part
to an ambitious waste disposal system, a consultancy report said
earlier this year. 
    The tailings dam problems had been solved by September, the
spokesman said. 
    The November report indicated that production was running on
or above target at the start of the month, but then fell behind.
Molybdenum production was also well behind, at 6 tonnes rather
than the 44 targeted. Cathode production was on target.
    Caserones is 77 percent-owned by Pan Pacific Copper.
Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co holds the remainder.
    The project, which is aiming for annual output of 150,000
tonnes once it is fully operational, was initially run by
powerful Chilean industry veteran Nelson Pizarro, who is now
chief executive of world no.1 copper producer Codelco. 

 (Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien in Santiago and Yuka Obayashi in
Tokyo; Editing by Alden Bentley)