The approval from a regional regulator allows operations at the Chilean mine to run till 2030

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The Radomiro Tomic mine is an open pit operation in the Antofagasta region that produced 261,000 tonnes of copper in 2020. (Credit: S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay)

Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) has secured approval from the Antofagasta Region Environmental Assessment Commission to extend the life of its Radomiro Tomic mine in Chile until 2030 through a $882m project.

Originally, the operations associated with the open pit mine in the Antofagasta region were to end in 2022. They will now be extended for another seven years from 2023 owing to the incorporation of new mining resources, said the Chilean state-owned copper mining company.

According to Codelco, the exploitation of the new mining resources calls for the relocation of the existing primary crushing of oxides and sulphides.

The Chilean miner said that it plans to implement bioleaching technology at the Radomiro Tomic mine for enabling the treatment of low-grade minerals in the future.

The company expects over 2,000 jobs to be created for developing the project.

Codelco executive president Octavio Araneda said: “This is very good news for Codelco and for Chile.

“The continuity of Radomiro Tomic’s operations and its sustainable extension in the coming years is part of our plan to continue providing resources to the State, and thus collaborate with the development and progress of our country and of those who need it most.”

Codelco Radomiro Tomic division general manager Lindor Quiroga said that the next five-year period will be tough for the Radomiro Tomic mine as the company’s mining variables are getting deteriorated.

To address this, it is important that the company has to continue to be austere, innovative, and more productive, said Quiroga.

Located 1,670km from Santiago, and 3,000m above sea level in the Andes mountain range, the Radomiro Tomic mine began operations in 1995.

In mid-2010, the construction of the $370m Radomiro Tomic-Phase I Sulfides Mine Exploitation project was wrapped up. In 2020, the Radomiro Tomic mine produced 261,000 tonnes of copper.

Earlier this year, Codelco sanctioned the $1.38bn Rajo Inca project, which aims to overhaul the company’s ageing Salvador mine.