BHP Billiton approves copper project

BHP Billiton has announced the approval of the USD 990 million Spence Copper Project in northern Chile. The project will have a designed capacity to produce 200,000 tonnes of copper cathode per annum and will have a mine life of 19 years. First cathode production is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2006. Project development will consist of the construction of a new open-cut mine with associated infrastructure, a 50k tonne per day crushing circuit, two separate leach pads, two parallel solvent extraction (SX) plants and an electrowinning (EW) circuit to produce copper cathode. The Spence orebody consists of both copper sulphide and oxide ores that will be mined from one open-cut mine but processed separately in order to achieve higher recovery rates.

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