Chile's Codelco gets regulatory nod to extend life of Radomiro Tomic mine

SANTIAGO, March 16 (Reuters) - Chile’s Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, said on Tuesday it had received approval from the regional environmental regulator to extend the life of its Radomiro Tomic mine until 2030, a key part of a larger plan to maintain output from its aging operations in the South American nation.

The Radomiro Tomic mine, which produced 261,000 tonnes of copper in 2020, was originally slated to end operations in 2022, the state-run company said, but advances in technology and processes will now allow it to tap additional resources.

“Thanks to the incorporation of new mining resources, it will be possible to extend it for seven more years from 2023,” Codelco said in a statement, adding that additional investment would be necessary to sustain output.

Codelco is in the midst of a 10-year, $40 billion initiative to upgrade its century-old network of mines in Chile, the world’s top copper producer. Many mines in the country have suffered in recent years from sharply falling ore grades.

“The next five years will not be easy for Radomiro Tomic because of the deterioration in our mining assets, so it is key we continue to be austere, innovative and more productive,” a company official said in the statement. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero in Santiago Writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Bernadette Baum)