Chuquicamata and Its Modernization Plan: Back to the Major League

Rojas, Juan H.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 22
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1998
The Chuquicamata mining and metallurgical complex is the main division of CODELCO-CHILE. Its comparative advantage in the world of primary copper producers had deteriorated severely and, consequently, its top management launched an extensive modernization plan. This paper shows how Chuquicamata recovered its position as a low-cost copper producer and is now well positioned to face the end of this century, as far as competitiveness is concerned. It also shows the company's vision for the )(XI century. Given the volume of its ore reserves, one possibility is expanding the sulfide production line capacity, while in the case of the oxide production line, ore reserves are limited so that there is a need to maximize the effectiveness of both organization and technology use. A final consideration has to do with the balance of supply and demand. Most observers of the copper market agree that supply is growing faster than demand. On the other hand, copper is facing severe environmental problems, especially in the piping business, plus the usual threat of substitution. Nevertheless, copper producers are making very weak efforts to defend the market and increase copper consumption through the promotion of new uses of the metal. This issue is crucial and must be considered if copper producers want to maintain a profitable market.
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