Chile’s Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper producer, is closer to securing a long-awaited deal with Ecuador-controlled miner Enami EP, which will allow them to jointly develop a massive project located about 80 km northeast of the country’s capital, Quito.
The 982-million-tonne Llurimagua copper project, in the northern Imbabura Province, is in the advanced exploration stage and could become the first mine the Chilean giant operates abroad.
Construction should begin shortly after the board of Llurimagua Copper Company S.A., the 51%-49% joint venture between Codelco and Enami, approves the agreement that formalizes the entity.
That announcement, local paper El Mercurio reports, is expected to come this week. Codelco and Enami first signed a cooperation agreement about a decade ago, but the companies only began talking about Llurimagua in 2015.
According to Ecuador’s vice minister of mining Fernando Benalcázar, the project is one of the copper industry’s “crown jewels,” but its development has faced challenges, including intermittent resistance from nearby communities over environmental concerns.
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