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