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AUG. 24, 2021

President Piñera heads ceremony to inaugurate works at the Rajo Inca mine in CODELCO’s Salvador Division

The US$1.4 billion project, which will give a boost to mining in Chile, will extend the working life of the mine by 47 years and change the extraction method from underground to open-cut.

The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, headed a ceremony to inaugurate works in the Rajo Inca mining project last Tuesday. The project will provide continuity to the Salvador Division of CODELCO, the national copper company, increasing production and contributing to regional development. 

The project contemplates a US$1.4 billion investment and will extent the working life of the mine by 47 years. It will also change the extraction method of the resources in the main deposit, Indio Muerto, from underground to open-cut. 

“This is a project in tune with the times. It will not only generate wealth and jobs; but it is also designed to respect and care for nature,” the President said at the inaugural blasting of the mine, where he was accompanied by Energy and Mining Biminister Juan Carlos Jobet. 

The project is planned to reach maximum production in 2023. Expected total production will be around 561 million tons of sulfide ores and 297 million tons of oxide ores. 

The total number of workers employed per day during the peak construction phase was 2,476; once operations start, the average number is expected to be 973 per day. 

During its time in operation, the Rajo Inca mine will contribute an average 3% to regional GDP. Its contribution in direct and indirect employment to the regional employment rate is calculated to be 9% in the municipal districts of Diego de Almagro and Chañaral during the project’s lifespan. 

“Mining is not going to continue in the same old way. We live in new times. We’re no longer being hit by climate change, as we used to call it, but a climate crisis that demands profound changes to the way we do things in every area, especially in mining,” the President explained. 

The project is designed to protect the entire ecosystem of the Salar de Pedernales salt flat, recovering 60 hectares of vegetation and developing an inventory of the species of flora and fauna that live in the area in order to ensure their survival. It will also protect sites of archaeological heritage. 

“Rajo Inca is an innovative project because it’s going to change the traditional way of exploiting ores in Chile,” President Piñera concluded. 

CODELCO’s investment plan this year is for US$3.5 billion. In addition to Rajo Inca, its biggest projects are El Teniente, Chuquicamata Subterránea and Traspaso Andina, which seek to increase production and extend the working life of the deposits.