Santaigo - The world's biggest copper mine, Chile's Escondida, will gradually boost its production until it stabilises around 1.3 million annual tonnes between 2015 and the end of the decade, controller BHP Billiton said.
“This year we said we would do 20 percent better than last year, we're three-fourths of the way through our fiscal year which is a June year-end, and we're on track to achieve this year's target,” BHP's head of base metals, Peter Beaven, told reporters on Thursday in Santiago ahead of the annual CESCO/CRU World Copper Conference.
The mine's copper output jumped 31.6 percent to roughly 1.076 million tonnes last year, as processing work and higher ore grades boosted production after a strike-hit 2011.
BHP and fellow global miner Rio Tinto , which owns 30 percent of Escondida, have approved plans for a $4.5 billion expansion to propel production at the massive mine.
As supply at Escondida and other key mines is expected to rise, Beaven said it was possible the global copper market tilt into surplus.