Astaldi is awarded tunnelling, construction and concession contracts worth US$420 million in a move that marks the Italian company's diversification into Chile's mining sector.
As part of the package of works for Codelco, Chile's state-owned mining company, Astaldi will excavate the 13.7km of access tunnels and 3.5km of emergency and ventilation shafts needed to transform the world's largest open-cut Chuquicamata copper mine into an underground operation.
Two main access tunnels totalling 7.5km will be constructed, as well as a further 6.2km transportation tunnel for extracted copper. Construction is due to start next month (March) with a scheduled completion date of August 2015.
In addition to the $155 million tunnels contract Astaldi is awarded a $34m contract to build a copper and molybdenum treatment and recovery plant and expects to earn £230 million in concessionary revenues for operation of the same plant.
Chuquicamata open pit mine in Chile is the world’s largest at 4.3km long, 3km wide and 850m deep
Alessandra Onorati of Astaldi said: "The entry of Astaldi into the mining sector in Chile corresponds to our desire to expand activities in the country through strategic diversification that is compatible with our technical and managerial skills and know-how. We have singled out the mining sector in Chile, which will see investments totalling approximately $70 billion over the next ten years. Codelco alone has announced investments of $15 billion in this sector over the next five years."
Astaldi has been operating in Chile since 2008, and holds a 27.3% stake in the concessionaire company responsible for constructing and currently managing the Chacayes hydroelectric plant as part of a partnership with Australian company, Pacific Hydro.
In October last year (2011) Codelco announced plans to spend $875 million on advance works at the Chuquicamata copper mine, which began operations in 2010. The mine, which until recently was the world's largest annual producer of copper, is situated 1,650km north of Santiago, at an altitude of 2,870m. Its open pit is the world's largest at 4.3km long, 3km wide and more than 850m deep.
Chuquicamata is expected to close next year (2013), but a $2 billion redevelopment is to be carried out that will switch production underground (starting in 2018) and increase the depth by 787m by the scheduled end of production in 2060. Conceptual engineering studies were finalised in 2009, and design consultancy Hatch is overseeing the engineering, tunnelling, access and ventilation works that will be needed as part of the enabling infrastructure.
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