Anglo American and Mitsubishi have announced the first production of copper concentrate from their Quellaveco project in Peru, which has been developed with an investment of $5.5bn.

The mine is located in Southern Peru’s Moquegua Region.

Its construction, which began in 2018, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. However, by implementing anti-infection and other precautionary measures over the past two years, the copper project was executed nearly on time and within budget, said Mitsubishi.

Quellaveco has ore reserves of around 8.9 million tonnes of contained copper.

With a mine life of around 36 years, the Quellaveco project is expected to have an annual production of nearly 300,000 tonnes of copper equivalent through open pit mining.

According to Anglo American, the first production of copper concentrate is a key milestone as the Quellaveco project nears completion prior to getting final regulatory clearance for commercial operations to start.

Presently, the commissioning phase of the project’s processing plant is going on. Once the final regulatory approval is obtained, product shipments will begin.

Anglo American Peru CEO Adolfo Heeren said: “Once in full operation, Quellaveco alone will increase Peru’s copper production by around 10%, and deliver sustainable benefits for decades to come, including 2,500 direct jobs, the incorporation of local suppliers into our supply chain, the increase of water sources for human consumption and irrigation, digital connectivity, the expansion of agricultural areas and tax revenues.

“By working together in partnership, we will deliver enduring positive outcomes for all our stakeholders.”

Anglo American has a 60% stake in the copper project, while the remaining 40% is held by Mitsubishi.

Mitsubishi, which is among Japan’s largest copper producers, expects to increase its attributable equity production post-Quellaveco by nearly 50% to 320,000-370,000 tonnes per annum.