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Altonorte smelter expansion construction commences following environmental approvals

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Xstrata Copper’s North Chile Division announces the commencement of construction of the phase four expansion at its Altonorte smelter in northern Chile, having now received environmental approval by the Antofagasta Region environmental authority Corema.
The operational upgrade, with an original investment estimate of US$58 million, will increase production capacity by almost one-third from around 290,000 tonnes a year of copper in anodes to 380,000 tonnes a year. Sulphuric acid production will increase from 800,000 to 1.1 million tonnes a year.
In addition, as part of Xstrata Copper’s commitment to being an environmental leader in the mining industry, Altonorte will voluntarily invest a further US$14 million to install double contacts in the new sulphuric acid plant, with the objective of increasing emissions capture from 93% to 95.5%. This will take the total expansion capital to US$72 million.
“This approval process has demonstrated to the community and the authorities this company’s commitment to the highest environmental standards, with a range of environmental enhancements incorporated into the smelter’s expansion” said Xstrata Copper North Chile Division Chief Operating Officer Jon Evans.
Over the next two years, Altonorte will also voluntarily implement various other projects to upgrade the smelter’s environmental performance, requiring an additional US$28 million investment. These projects include further measures to capture fugitive emissions and a smelter dust treatment plant.
Construction will start immediately, providing an additional 800 jobs during the construction phase and further permanent employment opportunities for 80 people once complete. The expansion will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2009.
Once complete, the Altonorte smelter will be one of the world’s largest smelters with operating costs in the lowest quartile.

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