SANTIAGO – Anglo American could begin to expand copper capacity starting in Peru in 2018 after another year without added supplies as the company remains focused on cutting costs, the head of its copper division said in an interview. Copper prices jumped 18 percent in 2016 and have been supported so far this year by strikes and a lack of new capacity.
“All of that has kept the market in almost a neutral position where there wasn’t a surplus,” said Hennie Faul, Anglo American’s chief executive officer for copper. “I couldn’t call it a tight position, but at least it got the prices to stabilize.”
Given a broadly stable copper market and a continued need to shore up the balance sheet following the commodities market crash of 2015 and early 2016, Faul said the company would only look at copper expansion once a decision had been made around year-end on restoring dividends.
The first expansion project would be at Quellaveco in Peru, where all permits have been approved and the project of up to 225,000 tonnes annually could be executed by the end of 2018.
“Should we get to make the decision we’re going to go for further expansion in copper, that (Quellaveco) will be one of our first projects,” Faul said, adding it would be an easier decision to make if prices stay where they are or increase.
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