April 14, 2016 / 4:53 PM / 2 years ago

Chile says Germany, China eyeing investment in copper smelters

SANTIAGO, April 14 (Reuters) - Germany and China are interested in investing in the development of copper smelters in the world’s top producer, Chile, the head of state copper commission Cochilco said on Thursday.

Cochilco is heading a presidential committee to look at the development of Chile’s smelters and has already handed President Michelle Bachelet its recommendations. Bachelet is expected to make a decision shortly.

Though details of the development plan are still scarce, Chile is likely interested in upgrading its increasingly dated smelters or in developing new ones.

Germany might be interested in owning a controlling stake in a smelter and operating it, Sergio Hernandez, the head of Cochilco, told journalists.

“There is interest from Germany in investing in smelters in Chile,” he said. Possible interested parties include the German state and Aurubis, Europe’s biggest copper smelter, he added.

“Aurubis is the most important German smelter in technological innovation. But this isn’t limited to Aurubis because a German government agency is eyeing Chile,” he said.

Aurubis has said that it is looking for potential acquisitions in emerging markets, but prefers those with less political risk.

Key copper buyer China may also seek to take a role in Chile’s smelters, said Hernandez.

“There is interest from China in providing financing, designing projects, new technologies and construction, although (China) isn’t necessarily interested in operating or owning them,” said Hernandez.

There are seven copper smelters in Chile. Four are owned and operated by state-run copper miner Codelco, and one each by state-run Enami, Anglo American and Glencore . (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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