Investment Decision for an Expansion Project at Centinela copper mine in the Republic of Chile

Dec. 20, 2023
Marubeni Corporation


Marubeni Corporation (hereinafter, “Marubeni”), in partnership with UK-based Antofagasta plc (hereinafter, “Antofagasta”), have finalized the decision to invest in an expansion project at Minera Centinela (hereinafter, “Centinela copper mine”) located in the Republic of Chile.

Esperanza deposit and concentrator plant at the Centinela copper mine Esperanza deposit and concentrator plant at the Centinela copper mine

Copper consumption has traditionally been tied to the urbanization of developing nations, the broadening of electrification and infrastructure, and more recently, to the rapid proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy sources integral to green transition. On the supply front however, copper production is not anticipated to increase, constrained as it is by a reduction in outputs resulting from diminishing ore grades in existing mines, as well as resource depletion and the escalating challenges involved in developing new mining operations. Consequently, long-term projections indicate that copper is likely to encounter supply shortfalls, leading to increasing discrepancies between supply and demand.

The expansion project involves the construction of a new concentrator plant to be located approximately 7km south of the existing concentrator plant, with the objective of doubling production capacities for copper concentrate. While the existing concentrator plant currently processes ore from the Esperanza deposit and Esperanza Sur deposits, the new plant will process ore extracted from the Esperanza Sur deposit and the Encuentro deposit*1 to produce copper concentrate. Following completion of the expansion project, Centinela copper mine’s total annual copper production is projected to increase by approximately 140 thousand tons per year, elevating it into the top 15 copper mines in the world by output. As a result of this increase, the share of equity copper volume attributable to Marubeni’s interest is set to increase by approximately 40 thousand tons annually. In addition, the production of gold, a by-product of the copper mining, is anticipated to make Centinela one of the leading gold producers in Chile.

General information regarding the Centinela copper mine:

Location Antofagasta Region of Chile
Reserve 2 billion ton ore (As of Dec., 2022)
Production period 2001—2059
Ownership Company Interest
Antofagasta 70%
Marubeni 30%
Location Antofagasta Region of Chile
Reserve 2 billion ton ore (As of Dec., 2022)
Production period 2001—2059
Ownership Company Interest
Antofagasta 70%
Marubeni 30%

The copper concentrate produced at the Centinela copper mine is poised to serve as a crucial raw material, characterized by low levels of impurities, for smelters globally, including those in Japan, thereby contributing to the stability of copper supplies on a global scale. The expansion project’s costs are estimated at 4.4 billion US dollars. With plans to secure project financing at the Centinela copper mine, the anticipated contribution from its shareholders is expected to be around 40% of the costs. The construction is scheduled to commence in 2024, and production set to begin in 2027.

The Centinela copper mine is dedicated to sustainable copper production, with a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship. This includes utilizing only seawater for operational needs, sourcing 100% renewable energy for electrical power, and employing thickened tailings storage methods. The mine has embraced innovations and technologies that enhance both the safety and productivity of its workforce. Notably, it has launched the first autonomous truck operation by a private Chilean company and established an Integrated Remote Operations Center in the city of Antofagasta to enhance operations. In recognition of its commitment to “responsible production,” the Centinela copper mine was awarded the Copper Mark*2 certification in 2021, affirming its adherence to industry-leading sustainable practices.

Since first participating in the development of the Centinela copper mine in 2008, Marubeni has collaborated with Antofagasta to investigate the potential for an expansion project to capitalize on the Centinela District’s abundant resources. The aim of the expansion project is to scale up the operations of the Centinela copper mine, which is renowned as being among the world’s leading copper producers, in terms of both volume and cost competitiveness. Furthermore, Marubeni has identified its green strategy as a pivotal policy in boosting corporate value, defining it as a core component of its Mid-Term Management Strategy, GC2024. Within this framework, the company categorizes its copper and related businesses as a Green Business and is committed to the continuous pursuit of a stable supply of sustainable copper, alongside the broader growth of its businesses.

1 Encuentro Copper Deposit: A significant mineral deposit that was agreed upon for joint development with Antofagasta in 2015. Currently producing copper cathode from oxide ore, with plans underway to develop the underlying sulfide ore upon construction of the new concentrator plant.

2 Copper Mark: A certification program initiated by the International Copper Association (ICA), which subsequently became an autonomous organization, the Copper Mark Company, in 2019. Copper producers seeking recognition for their contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12) can earn the Copper Mark by meeting 32 criteria regarding responsible production, upon which they will be rigorously assessed.

Overview of Antofagasta:

Company Name: Antofagasta plc
Location: London, United Kingdom
Established: 1888
Main Business: Mining, transportation, water business
Website: http://www.antofagasta.co.uk/

Location of the Expansion Project:

Location of the Expansion Project

Overview of the Expansion Project:

Overview of the Expansion Project

Related press releases:
・February 9, 2023
Marubeni Becomes a Partner of the Copper Mark, a Framework to Promote the Responsible Production of Copper

・August 12, 2021
Minera Centinela Awarded the Copper Mark

・December 16, 2020
Minera Centinela Commits to Copper Mark

・April 3. 2020
Minera Centinela Moves to Convert Mining Operations to 100% Renewable Energy in 2022

・September 3. 2015
New copper mining property in Chile