According to Patricio Vergara, Codelco’s vice president of mining resources and development, the mining firm is looking to privatize some of its properties in order to offer non-core exploration assets to the market.
Patricio Vergara believes that such assets could be future partnerships.
Vergara said: ¨We could make some kind of association with those companies that are interested in investing in joint development”, during a presentation at the World Copper Conference.
JV Projects Could Lower Drilling Costs
Given that lithium mining initiatives have been progressing more slowly than previously anticipated, Codelco has been planning to begin lithium exploration in March in the Maricunga salt flat in Chile, which is said to be the second-largest lithium producer in the world.
Vergara added: “We’ve seen permitting, approval times have been a little bit longer than we thought. There have been higher drilling costs.”
Exploration in the Maricunga salt flat in Chile’s Atacama region will be carried out over a period of ten months.
Meanwhile, Codelco has awarded a $27.4 million contract to engineering group Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions to deliver the Auto Mine loading and haulage automation system for Chile’s El Teniente mine.
The Auto Mine System
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions were chosen to deliver its system to Codelco in February 2021. Sandvik’s Auto Mine system is a highly advanced automation system designed to autonomously and remotely operate different types of loaders and trucks.
Auto Mine has the capacity to support up to 32 machines and hardware for its production area and for supplying future expansions. Codelco will be receiving additional trucks and loading equipment to be added to the Auto Mine system from 2023 to 2027.
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions business area president Henrik Ager said: “I am pleased to see a continued strong interest for AutoMine solutions that contribute to improving safety, reliability and productivity in the mine and I look forward to the partnership with Codelco in this project.”
In turn, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions secured an order for loading and haulage equipment from Codelco. The contract initially valued at US$16.4 million will have an extension from 2022 to 2027.
The contract stipulates that Sandvik will also supply equipment such as Toro TH663i trucks and Sandvik LH514 loaders to Codelco through this year and 2023. Sandvik acquired DSI Underground last year for US$1.15 billion, which offers ground support and reinforcement products for the mining and tunnelling industries.