Source AP ©

Antofagasta Minerals SA to start mining project in northern Chile

The US $1.5 billion (1.05 billion EUR) Esperanza mining project led by Antofagasta Minerals SA will be launched in northern Chile in the first quarter of 2008.

The Esperanza mine is expected to start production during the first quarter of 2009 at a rate of 190,000 tons of copper a year, as well as 229,000 ounces of gold and 1.5 million ounces of silver, the Chilean company announced at a news conference.

Esperanza manager Christian Thiele said the project will operate using only sea water because groundwater is scarce in the desert region.

The project has already received the provisional environmental approval from local authorities, allowing it to start construction of the workers camp, internal roads and water and electricity installations.

The company said construction of the project will create some 9,000 jobs through 2009.

Company Vice President Marcelo Awad said Antofagasta is in talks with foreign companies he did not identify on possible joint development of the project.