The state agency said a significant change in the country's production profile was anticipated with existing copper mines expected to reduce their production 31% by 2031 compared with 2019 levels. Even including forecast expansion projects and others aimed at maintaining production at existing operations, output from current mines would still fall 6.47% to 5.73Mt, said Cochilco.
Chile has several expansion and development projects underway and in the pipeline, including the expansion of Antofagasta Minerals' Los Pelambres mine, Teck's QB2 development, Codelco's Rajo Inca development and Capstone Mining' Santo Domingo project.
The next 10 years is also expected to see a marked shift away from hydrometallurgical copper production towards concentrates. Hydrometallurgical production will see its share fall from 27.3% of production in 2019 to a forecast 8.1% in 2031 with the number of SX-EW plants expected to fall from 34 to 22, representing the loss of 2.5Mtpy of installed capacity.
Copper concentrate production will increase to 54.9% of total production by 2031 and with that the amount of concentrates exported and not refined in Chile is forecast to increase from 68% to 77%. With the increase in the production of concentrates, production from sulphide mineral is expected to increase to 72% of total production.