May 31, 2018 / 10:12 PM / a year ago

Codelco retains CEO Nelson Pizarro at helm of world's top copper producer

SANTIAGO, May 31 (Reuters) - Chile's Codelco, the world's top copper producer, said on Thursday its board of directors asked Chief Executive Nelson Pizarro to stay at the helm and move forward with an ambitious, 10-year overhaul of its sprawling but aging mines.

The board made the decision to retain Pizarro in its first meeting since Chile's conservative president, Sebastian Pinera, appointed Juan Benavides, a businessman and former CEO of retailer Falabella, as Codelco's chair.

"The board expressed its confidence in current CEO Nelson Pizarro, and appreciates his willingness to lead the process of transformation the company is facing," the state-owned miner said in a statement.

Pizarro, an industry veteran and ex-mining engineer, was first appointed under center-left President Michelle Bachelet in 2014. He helped spearhead a belt-tightening program at Codelco that allowed it to maintain productivity despite a 9 percent drop in ore grades since 2013.

The company last year delivered $3 billion in profits to Chile's coffers, accounting for 16 percent of the South American nation's exports and more than one-third of its copper production.

Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Peter Cooney

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