Copper production at BHP’s Chilean Spence Growth Option (SGO) project could start between December 2020 and March 2021 after being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
BHP said in a statement that the commissioning of the project’s desalination plant and the capitalization of the associated $600mn lease will be developed in the H1 2021 after production begins. On April 21 this year, the firm had announced that the SGO project’s expansion was delayed in the interest of safeguarding its employees from COVID-19.
The firm had approved a capital expenditure of $2.46bn for SGO in northern Chile in August 2017 with the investment expected to extend the mine’s life by more than 50 years. During the first 10 years of operation, the incremental output from SGO will be about 185,000mt of payable copper in concentrate, and 4,000mt of payable molybdenum.
BHP’S copper production increased by 2pc to 1.72mn mt in the fiscal ending June 2020 although copper production in Q4 2019 (ended June 30, 2020) dipped to 414,000mt compared to the prior quarter.
Chile’s copper output increased by 0.96pc to 492,500mt in May from 487,800mt produced in the same month last year, according to data from the Chilean Copper Commission.