Japan’s Marubeni to invest in $4.4 billion copper expansion project in Chile

TOKYO (Reuters) -Marubeni Corp has decided to invest in an expansion project at Minera Centinela in Chile, with an estimated total cost of $4.4 billion, the Japanese company said on Wednesday, in a partnership with UK-based Antofagasta Plc.

The move comes amid expectations of growing demand for the metal, driven by the spread of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy.

The project involves construction of a new concentrator plant, aiming to double capacity for production of copper concentrate, Marubeni said in a statement.

The new plant will process ore extracted from the Esperanza Sur deposit and the Encuentro deposit to produce the concentrate.

Construction is set to start in 2024, with production due to begin in 2027, Marubeni added.

The expansion will boost annual copper output from the Centinela mine by 140,000 tons, ranking it among the world’s top 15 such mines by output, according to Marubeni.

As a result, Marubeni’s annual copper output through its equity holdings will increase by about 40,000 tons.

With plans to secure project financing at the mine, the anticipated contribution from shareholders is expected to account for about 40% of the costs, Marubeni said.

The Japanese trading house also said it had reached an agreement with JX Metals Corp to acquire an additional 3.27% stake in Minera Los Pelambres Copper Mine in Chile and a 20.0% stake in Pan Pacific Copper Co, owned by JX Metals.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Yuka Obayashi; editing by Jason Neely and Clarence Fernandez)