Chile copper production to peak later than expected, report says

Chile copper production to peak later than expected, report says

SANTIAGO Reuters - Copper production in Chile, the world's largest producer of the red metal, will grow at a slower rate this decade than previously hoped, with peak output later and lower than estimated a year ago.

According to an unpublished report from Cochilco, the red metal's output will peak at some 7.14 million tons in 2030, two years later than anticipated as delays hit mining projects in the Andean nation.

That is well below the 7.62 million-tonne 2028 peak that the regulator had predicted in its decade outlook a year ago.

The report said that the outlook was quite lower than projections made in previous years because of the fact that a lot of important projects in the next decade haven't advanced in engineering or environmental baselines during the epidemic. The global price of the metal has soared past $9,000 per tonne since 2020 due to production snarls in Chile. Protests in neighboring Peru have curbed production in major mines at the world's No. 2 copper producing countries.

The report predicts that production will grow 17% to 6.58 million tons by 2033, despite the expected slower growth in Chile. The report states that projects to maintain and expand current mines would not be enough on their own to meet projections, because all planned mining projects in the current portfolio would be included in its projections.

It's necessary for all the new initiatives on the national investment portfolio to materialize, which would contribute 17% of production towards 2033, the report said.

In response to questions from Reuters, Cochilco research head Vctor Garay said that the peak couldn't happen earlier because new projects needed studies and analysis, which take a long time Chile's copper sector, the country's top exporter, needed more legal certainty for investment after the government denied permits for the Dominga iron and copper project and uncertainty over a new constitution.

On Wednesday, the Chief Executive of Freeport-McMoRan Inc said Chile's expansion projects were on hold until the country's political situation is clearer.

The report showed a production fall last year versus 2021, but said that this should close the cycle of production losses associated with the COVID - 19 epidemic. There is a chance that production will drop after the 2030 peak as some operations close or produce less without expected replacement projects that would allow continuity.