Peru bullish about copper No. 2 spot as Congo closes gap

LIMA, June 1 (Reuters) – Peru is bullish about holding on as the world’s No. 2 copper producer with key projects set to move forward, its mining minister said on Thursday amid a stern challenge from fast growing rival Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Andean country has seen its position come under threat by the rapid emergence of Congo, which almost matched Peru’s copper production and exports last year though it fell just short on both counts, official data from both countries show.

A report earlier this week said that Congo could grab the No. 2 spot as Peru’s output growth stalled within the next few years. Neighboring Andean producer Chile remains the world’s dominant producer and supplier of the red metal.

Both Peru and Chile have seen copper production plateau, linked to political and regulatory uncertainty.

Reuters Graphics
Reuters Graphics

Peru’s Mining Minister Oscar Vera said the country’s copper industry could boost output of the key metal needed for the global electrification shift, adding that mines worth some $6 billion were set to come online over the next two years.

Vera said Peru mining projects on the horizon include the $1.5 billion Zafranal mine and the $2.5 billion Yanacocha Sulfuros project controlled by Newmont Mining Corp (NEM.N).

“The general manager (of Yanacocha) was with us a few weeks ago, and we were told of their decision to continue moving forward and that they plan to invest around $400 million through the end of the year,” Vera said.

Newmont did not respond to a request for comment.

Vera also said government authorization would be coming soon for an investment of around $1.3 billion to expand the Aluminum Corp-controlled Toromocho mine.

The Andean country has some $53 billion in pending mining projects, according to government data, but most are long term and have been delayed amid social and political unrest.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Edmund Klamann and Chizu Nomiyama

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