LIMA, June 13 (Reuters) - Grupo Mexico SAB de CV could double its metals smelting capacity in Peru because environmental regulations have been loosened, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said on Tuesday.
Last week, Peru approved new air and water quality standards consistent with Kuczynski’s goal of persuading mining companies to invest more in metals processing to add value to the Andean country’s mineral exports.
“The environmental standards were unrealistic for smelters and processing plants, and with the new standards Grupo Mexico is thinking of doubling its smelting in Peru,” Kuczynski said during a meeting with businesses in Spain broadcast by Peruvian state television.
Grupo Mexico owns Southern Copper , which operates the Toquepala and Cuajone copper mines and the Ilo smelter in Peru. Last year, the Ilo smelter processed 1 million tonnes of copper concentrate and the facility has a total capacity of 1.2 million tonnes.
Representatives of Southern Copper did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kuczynski’s remarks.
Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer and mining represents 60 percent of its exports.
Kuczynski has said the new environmental standards are more in line with Chile and Colombia.
Southern Copper, which also operates the La Caridad and Buenavista mines in Mexico, is expanding Peru’s Toquepala mine. The company’s executive president, Oscar Gonzalez, has said the company is seeking to reactivate its Tia Maria copper project in Peru with a $1.4 million investment.
The company expects to produce 1 million tonnes of copper in 2019 in its Mexico and Peru operations as part of an expansion plan, compared with 900,000 tonnes produced last year. (Reporting by Teresa Cespedes and Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool)