Chile’s state-owned copper mining company Codelco is planning to invest an additional $720m to renovate its Chuquicamata copper mine, located in the north of Chile.

The company already spent $5.7bn to convert the open pit into an underground mine, as part of its $39bn plan to upgrade its core assets in 10 years.

It is currently in the process of spending $1.3bn on related infrastructure and is seeking environmental approval for design adjustments and complementary works.

The proposed operational changes at Chuquicamata, both underground and at the surface level are not expected to affect the originally authorised extraction and processing rates.

Bloomberg reported Codelco is struggling to return production to pre-pandemic levels of about 1.7 million tons per annum (mtpa) from around 1.3mtpa this year.

Through the additional $720m investment, Codelco aims to stop the decline in its overall production.

In a separate development, the Chilean miner has started the extraction of ore from the Rajo Inca project, which is more than 60% complete and planned to start operations next year.

Codelco, in a statement, said: “Striking the ore-filled rock is a key step as the Rajo Inca looks to kick off metal concentration in March of next year.

“The mine’s concentrator plant will ramp up processing over seven months to reach 37,000 metric tons of ore a day.”

Last month, Codelco signed a binding scheme implementation deed (SID) to acquire 100% of Lithium Power International (LPI) in a deal that values LPI at around A$385m ($244m).

Under the terms of the SID, LPI shareholders will receive A$0.57 ($0.36) in cash per each LPI share held, pursuant to the scheme consideration.

LPI Board of Directors has unanimously recommended the shareholders vote in favour of the Scheme and approve the Scheme, in the absence of a superior proposal.