UPDATE 2-Canada's Teck says its copper projects shielded from potential Chile tax hike

(Changes headline, adds comment from Teck spokesman, shares)

TORONTO, May 18 (Reuters) - Canada’s Teck Resources sees little risk of higher taxes in copper powerhouse Chile due to a stability agreement that shields the company’s massive Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 copper project from higher levies for 15 years, Chief Executive Don Lindsay said on Tuesday.

Chile’s lower house this month approved a bill that would sharply hike taxes on copper mining to pay for social programs.

“We trust the Chilean institutions,” Lindsay said at the Bank of America Securities Global Metals, Mining & Steel conference on Tuesday,

“The stability agreements were offered on a transparent and uniform basis under Chilean law and therefore they’re theoretically not negotiable,” he added.

Teck spokesman Chris Stannell said on Wednesday that Lindsay was referring only to tax agreements related to Teck’s operations in Chile, rather than the wider sector.

Separately, Vancouver-based Teck has yet to decide whether to restart a sales process for its 80% stake in the Zafranal copper mine in Peru and could look for a partner to build it, Lindsay said.

A similar approach could work at its San Nicolas project in Mexico, he said.

Teck and other miners have benefited from a surge in copper prices on the back of rising demand in China, which has made such assets more valuable, Lindsay said.

“These projects are now more valuable today than they were before COVID,” he said.

Teck’s Toronto-listed shares fell as much as 8% in Wednesday trading, as prices for the red metal edged lower on inflation worries and prospects for higher supply. (Reporting by Jeff Lewis Editing by Chris Reese, Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman)