(Adds Codelco comments, background on mine project)
By Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO, Sept 3 (Reuters) - The redesign of the approximately $7.5 billion Andina mine in Chile will take around two years and involve a new procedure in the application for its environmental permit, Codelco told Reuters on Thursday.
State-run Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper producer, said last week, without giving details, that it was reworking its plan to expand Andina in the wake of a falling copper price and protests about the project’s possible impact on the environment.
Andina is one of the key ‘structural’ projects that Codelco is relying upon to keep its production flowing as ore grades decline at its older mines.
However, its plans have been complicated by a six-year-low in the copper price.
Additionally, environmental activists have said the Andina expansion, as originally planned, would have damaged rock glaciers and affected the water supply of capital Santiago, at a time when many Chileans are becoming increasingly concerned about the ecological impact of large resources projects.
“Necessarily the reformulation of the project implies a new environmental procedure,” Codelco said in an email, responding to a query about how long the redesign could take.
“We don’t have a definite date, but we are forecasting around two years of detailed studies to come up with the new option for Andina’s expansion, which will use much of the engineering that has already been developed,” the company said.
Reporting by Fabian Cambero, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and W Simon