28 September 2009

Antofagasta Seeks Funds to Expand Biggest Copper Mine

By Matt Craze and Nathan Gill
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Antofagasta Plc, which is planning a $1 billion expansion of its biggest copper mine, will seek financing by year-end for the project in Chile, Chairman Jean-Paul Luksic said.

“We are looking for financing with banks overseas, and it most probably won’t be through bonds, it will be financing through credit,” billionaire Luksic, whose family controls 63 percent of the company, told reporters today in Santiago.

Antofagasta will spend $1 billion to expand Los Pelambres, its biggest copper mine, and $2.2 billion on its Esperanza project, also in Chile, according to the company’s Web site. Antofagasta said it will boost its copper output 60 percent by 2011.

Luksic said Asian nations’ demand for copper used in power cables and electric wire will continue to grow and the world may exit a recession by 2011. Demand for copper will be “volatile” next year, he said.

Copper futures for December delivery fell 0.5 percent to $2.727 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price touched $2.6625, the lowest for a most-active contract since Aug. 19.