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Santiago, May 8 (EFE).- Chilean state-owned mining giant Codelco on Wednesday announced plans to invest nearly $27 billion over the next six years.
CEO Thomas Keller said the investment program, "the largest in (Codelco's) history," will enable the company to remain the world's largest copper producer while implementing new environmental and social policies.
"We have a unique opportunity to incorporate world-class sustainability," Keller said.
The state-owned company plans to invest more than $2 billion on measures to avoid or mitigate mining's impact on communities and the environment, he said.
Codelco also plans to allocate an additional $1 billion to upgrade its smelters and ensure they meet stricter greenhouse gas-emission standards.
In the company's Ministro Hales division, located in the northern region of Antofagasta, an arsenic-removing roasting furnace to be built will ensure that toxic element is eliminated during the initial stage of the metal-extraction process.
Keller also defended a major project to expand Codelco's Andina division, located near Santiago. Known as Andina 244, the project has come under fire from environmental groups over the impact it would have on 26 glaciers that supply fresh water to the capital region.
The executive said the expansion effort would not affect any "white" glaciers and that all efforts will be made to "minimize" the impact on six rock glaciers.
Codelco posted pre-tax profit of $7.5 billion in 2012, up 6.8 percent from the previous year.